For those trying to manage addiction, developing alternative stress management tools is an important step towards sustained health. Often, however, the focus is on meditation, yoga, or distress tolerance skills – activities that are easy to practice if you’re in a treatment facility. This leaves exercise, particularly activities that require more space, on the wayside, an unfortunate side effect of treatment facilities where many could benefit from such an outlet. It is why a lot of people choose to go to one of the many inpatient drug rehab facilities in Canada, because these kind of wellness exercises are used as part of their treatment regimes.
What Makes Exercise Effective?
Exercise contributes to recovery in several different ways. First, exercise is a readily accessible tool that can replace addictive behaviors – feeling a craving, then why don’t you go for a run? Exercise also triggers many of the same neurological pleasure pathways as drugs by causing the body to release dopamine, a healthy way to rewire these paths.
Another reason exercise works so well as a tool in addiction recovery is that it can help those in recovery build new social support networks by joining a team or a running club and can help addicts develop an improved sense of self after being broken down by drug abuse. Feeling positive about your body and your life prospects are powerful replacements for addiction. You may also find visiting an outpatient drug rehab centre, can also help you get back on the right track too, by accepting the help of other people on your addiction journey.
Creating A New Center
Some recovering addicts speak highly of exercise as a tool for managing drug cravings because unlike activities like AA or NA, exercise is a complete break from their old lives. They no longer have to spend their time in recovery focused on how they used to behave, talking about old addictive behaviors. When you’ve reached a place where you want to start over in life after hitting rock bottom, why not be given a chance to stop rehashing that negative past day after day?
The one major concern about introducing exercise as part of addiction recovery is that many who have abused drugs suffer from organ damage or other health conditions that can make it dangerous to exercise too vigorously. That’s why it’s important that those in recovery not take on a new fitness regime without getting a checkup first. Doctors typically recommend introducing exercise slowly, not pushing the heart rate too high for too long. Even those with a stronger background in the fitness world should slowly work their way up to past fitness levels.
If you’re considering using fitness as part of your quest to get and remain drug free, one good option is strength training. Strength training places less strain on the respiratory system, one of the first systems compromised by drug use, helps improve sleep, and can be a good way to rebuild muscle mass lost while in the grip of addiction. Team sports like basketball and touch football are also good options because of the social element.
It’s time to make exercise an integral part of drug rehab, as a sustainable, healthy alternative to substance abuse. Exercise is a dual investment in renewed health, removing the inclination to use harmful substances, while building a strong, healthy body that will help you thrive for years to come.