Most drug and alcohol addiction treatments usually involve therapy or counseling sessions. They also concentrate on helping addicts to understand why they continue to participate in addictive activities and other useful ways of handling the feelings that trigger addiction.
Although these treatment methods benefit many drug and alcohol addicts, some feel they want physical approach methods, rather than the emotional or mental features of addiction.
Others realize that exercise helps to manage cravings as an alternative to counseling therapy. Over the past decade, people recovering from addictions have recognized exercise as a support tool. However, recently people use it as a form for treating addiction in its own right.
Consequences of Exercise during Withdrawal
Withdrawal from addictive substances creates undesirable experiences if users discontinue using drugs immediately.
Symptoms of withdrawal include feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability, and digestive issues. Nervous system symptoms include dry mouth, headaches, sweating, and muscle tension. Various substances and drugs may produce different withdrawal symptoms.
Fortunately, experts suggest that performing regular exercise can alleviate the primary cause of these withdrawal symptoms.
Unfortunately, the studies on humans performing exercise while undergoing withdrawal are limited. However, the research on smokers and animals going through withdrawal is more substantial.
An example of drug withdrawal that researchers have found to produce positive results from exercise includes nicotine withdrawal. Other studies also indicate that smokers who practice exercise more often have decreased cravings for cigarettes, improved mood, and withdrawal symptoms compared with non-exercising people giving up smoking.
Scientists have also conducted additional researches on animals to determine the consequences of exercise on alcohol and drug withdrawal. For instance, rat experiments indicate that symptoms such as seizure, anxiety, and temperature sensitivity from various drugs and substances decreased when they exercised the animals.
Exercise for Relapse Prevention
Researches have investigated exercise as a treatment for reducing risks of relapse to addiction. Exercise also reduces drug cravings and improve treatment results. For instance, people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and finalized with the withdrawal stage of detoxification have lower longings to drink when they exercise regularly.
Researches have also found that combining exercise with other treatment options is very useful. Also, contingency management, a reward-focused system rather than a therapy, is more effective when combined with activities related to exercise.
The Limits and Potential of Exercise as a Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Exercise seems to have significant untapped potential as an additional treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Its benefits both on emotional feelings and withdrawal symptoms make it suitable for helping people feel better as they recover from addictions. It can also make them healthier, prevent relapse, and may even repair some of the neurological damage produced by substance abuse.
However, an exercise by itself will not help you learn more useful methods of managing your emotions. It can’t also help you to understand what developed drug and alcohol addiction in the first place or identify its triggers. Besides, an exercise in itself may improve your emotional conditions, and enhance the effectiveness of other therapies.
Therefore, the best decision is to discuss with your doctor about your addiction issues first before beginning exercising sessions. Doing so will ensure the doctor will give appropriate recommendations on whether an exercise is right for your condition.