Research suggests that adding exercise in with addiction treatment might be a good way to increase and strengthen the effects on the path to recovery. When addicts are trying to recover from their addiction, their body and mind crave the endorphins that cause that “high” feeling. Everyday stress can increase cravings and then the recovery process can become a constant battle.
It is also common for people to experience depression during withdrawal symptoms and so behavioral treatments help addicts with drug-free living, both emotionally and physically in the fight for healthy living. According to a recent Huffington Post article, exercise causes endorphins to be released into the body along with endocannabinoids, which both produce a natural high and therefore can help the individual cope better in their recovery.
Studies have also proven that exercise can reduce stress as a chemical present in the brain during exercise diminishes certain cravings that are stress-related. Long-term exercise can help decrease the intensity of cravings and may even diminish addicts’ drug-seeking behaviors, while also helping you maintain a healthy weight.
Scientists wanted to take a closer look how exercise affected drug addictions and so they used rats and observed them working out. The rats were put in cages with exercise wheels and were injected with drugs such as nicotine, alcohol, amphetamines and morphine. The exercising rats tapped the drug dispenser much less often than their sedentary counterparts. This led researchers to conclude that it might be that the exercise became an alternative to drugs or when the exercise endorphins kicked in, the workout may have helped treatment.
While exercise itself isn’t an addiction cure, it may be just be the distraction addicts need to help them take the focus off their drug craving.