In 2011, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) released a study, which concluded that exercise boosts the feeling of euphoria in the person, similar to the high achieved by narcotics or alcohol. It cited three different studies with similar conclusions—those who use drugs are less likely to do so if exercise is easily accessible when the craving hits.
Achieving Chemical Balance
Various research studies have been made which prove that exercise in recovery will help bring the levels of chemicals like serotonin or dopamine back to a naturally occurring state unlike the imbalance which results from drug abuse. Rehab centers such as Ranch Creek often offer exercise routines specifically designed for addicts. Countless studies have shown that exercise actually boosts dopamine levels to the brain.
Sweating and Flushing the Toxins
There’s a prevailing myth that says sweating will flush out the toxins from your body. Unfortunately, the research is not conclusive enough to categorically affirm this theory. It’s a good theory, however, and on the face of it, seems to hold water. There’s no alternative to professionally supervised detoxification to manage withdrawal, especially if the addict has been hooked on drugs and alcohol for long.
However, rehab facilities have found that exercise is useful in keeping the mind of the person busy, distracting from the cravings. The addition of yoga and meditation into the regimen, apart from the physical exercises, only serve to balance provide balance to the person.
Prevention Better Than Cure
It should be mentioned that exercise is a great way to avoid getting hooked on drugs in the first place. The same NCBI study found that drug intake and exercise are inversely related. The more a person sticks to his or her exercise routine, the less likely they are going to be tempted into using drugs. This is why it’s important to be physically active at the outset. Exercise helps develop a positive mindset.
Breaking a Habit and Setting a Routine
Both drug addiction and exercise share a quality; they become a habit and a routine. The difference, of course, is that the former hurts the body and the latter helps it. Ranch Creek and other addiction treatment facilities have found that the routine of daily exercise can replace not only the dopamine and serotonin flooding the brain when using drugs but also can replace the habit or routine of taking drugs. This becomes incredibly helpful during aftercare, as the patient will have a positive release when suffering from cravings or temptation.
The problem is when aerobic exercises become a routine. When that happens, boredom and disinterest usually occur. Ranch Creek’s drug addiction treatment centers offer yoga, meditation, acupuncture, equine therapy, and garden therapy, among others, in the effort to change the routine and keep the therapy interesting for the patient.