Regaining sobriety is a journey, and it takes time for both the mind and the body to process. It’s crucial to remember that addicts are going through countless changes and adjustments while trying to get back to a normal chemical state. Regular activity during this time can help flush the drugs and toxins from the body and give the mind goals to focus on during such a challenging time for the brain.
Why Exercise Works So Well
Studies have shown multiple times that adding exercise to treatment (such as counseling and therapy) vastly strengthens the effects of the treatment. Regular activity leads to a sense of accomplishment, motivation, increased confidence and feeling stronger. That’s in addition to the actual physical benefits that make you healthier. There are several reasons why working out can help improve your recovery experience.
Training Can Replicate the High
A huge part of the effectiveness of exercise is that, in a sense, it replaces the drugs. Completing physical activity (like a brisk jog or lifting weights) releases a flood of endorphins into our bodies. These are the same hormones that drug usage affects. Your brain experiences a rush of euphoria and relaxation that mimics the feeling of drugs, without any of the harmful side effects (hence the term “runner’s high”). The feeling is less intense than the effects actual drugs, but it is still a far more pleasurable release than doing nothing at all.
It Fights Unpleasant Symptoms
Detoxification is a challenge, regardless of the drug, and addicts are left not only battling the emotional issues of letting go of a drug, but also the physical ones. Sometimes they’re as minor as a headache, but in other cases, addicts can suffer anxiety, depression, or even weight gain. Regular exercise fights against these feelings.
It Works as an Emotional Outlet
Many people use drugs when they’re experiencing emotional distress, whether it’s anger, fear, loneliness, sadness, or joy. Taking up a physical hobby provides an outlet for those emotions. These kinds of activities are individualized — some may find that running is a perfect outlet, and others may practice yoga for mental and physical control. Still, others will find that a brisk walk creates inner peace.
It Builds Self-Confidence
As exercise transforms the body, it will begin to work on the mind as well. Each time a new personal record is reached or there’s an improvement in physique or ability, it’ll be inspiring. This new confidence can help motivate future treatment, and it can help addicts cope with life in more positive ways, including daily interactions. With more confidence, addicts can trust the recovery process — which will lead to success.
It Can Help Others
Addiction is something that doesn’t just affect one person. When someone’s life is being controlled by a substance, his or her entire family will feel it too. With exercise as a way to self-manage, recovering addicts can be a positive influence on their loved ones. These activities can include family and friends, encouraging a rebuilding of damaged relationships.
Faster Healing and Recovery
Using drugs interrupts processes within the body and skews natural cycles. Exercising will help establish more normalcy within you; it’s also a big part of building a healthy sleep schedule since it helps you feel tired enough to rest. The more consistent and replenishing your sleep is, the faster your body will be able to recover from the drug or alcohol damage.
Exercise for Home Recovery
Even months after treatment, staying active is beneficial. There are many options that don’t involve any equipment or gym memberships, so anyone can use them. Continuing with an exercise regimen can decrease an addict’s chance of relapse, as it helps the head and the heart.
Exercising is a wonderful choice for everyone, but it’s especially helpful for those who are overcoming an addiction. If you or a loved one is considering admission into a treatment facility, look for one that has the equipment and space for proper exercise and movement. Addiction hurts the mind and the body; engaging the body during and after treatment can make a recovering addict’s journey much less difficult.