The reason addicts use drugs and alcohol is to achieve a high that will allow them to space out for a time and enjoy a mind-altering experience. It allows them to cope with stress, boredom, loneliness, depression, anxiety, or other negative emotions they are experiencing. Addicts continue to use because they get a payoff, or reward, from using the substance they are addicted to, even when the consequences are negative.
Compare the impact of physical activity with using drugs or alcohol. Exercise has a positive impact on a person’s mood, since it releases endorphins, the body’s “feel good” hormones. Working out regularly can also help to relieve stress, depression, and anxiety, and there are no harmful side effects from going to the gym or hitting the pavement to go for a run.
Adding Exercise To Addiction Recovery
For people who are wired to seek out experiences that will help them hook into their brain’s pleasure centers, it makes sense to include regular physical activity as part of an addiction treatment program. Exercising during recovery can help clients redirect their desire for the chemical reward they were used to getting from alcohol or drugs in a natural way.
Another advantage to including exercise as part of the routine during an inpatient treatment program is that it helps to get clients on the road to a healthier lifestyle. Often, a person who has been using drugs or alcohol has neglected his or her physical health. Nutrition classes teach clients how to prepare healthy meals, and exercise classes and participating in physical activities help them to rediscover the simple joy of movement.
Exercise Serves A Purpose In Sober Living
Once a client has completed a course of treatment at the inpatient facility, regular exercise has a place in his or her sober living routine as well. The last thing that a recovering addict needs is large blocks of time where he or she will be at loose ends. Being bored could lead to someone wanting to test his or her resolve to stay sober, which is never a good idea.
Getting off the couch and going to the gym, playing a team sport, or taking an exercise class is a way to fill up a stretch of time which could otherwise be used to trigger a relapse. The importance of exercise in recovery should not be discounted. Getting (and staying) physically active can have a number of positive benefits for people who are trying to achieve the goal of long-term sobriety.