Why Exercise is Essential to Addiction Recovery

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by chelseabythesea No Comments

Exercise & Recovery

Substance addictions are maintained by various factors that include an ever-growing tolerance, cravings, and withdrawal. After people take a drug enough times, their tolerance to that drug builds up to the extent that they have to increase the dosage to achieve the desired effects.

This leads to the formation of dependence on that drug which then itself leads to unpleasant feelings of withdrawal mixed with urges to retake the drug. The neurotransmitter dopamine is responsible for these cravings and the constant pull to reuse the drug.

It is through dopamine that exercise helps those addicted to drugs or alcohol. Scientific studies have demonstrated that exercise can alter dopamine pathways, decrease stress, and work against neurological brain disorders. These three factors are indirectly related to substance addiction and could potentially increase a person’s chances of recovery if taken advantage of.

Can Exercise Reduce Stress?

Stress can provoke someone to start using drugs to cope and can also push someone over the edge, during an addiction, to relapse. Therefore, reducing stress should decrease one’s chances of relapse while they are in Orange County detox programs. Exercise has not only been shown to reduce stress but also to decrease feelings of anxiety.

Withdrawal symptoms differ depending on which substance someone is addicted to, but the majority of substances share one withdrawal symptom in common, anxiety. Reducing anxiety can lead to decreased relapse rates because withdrawal symptoms are part of what push people to use again. Decreasing anxiety and stress at the simultaneously doubles one’s chances of successfully quitting an addictive substance.

How Exercise Alters Neurons

A study at the University of Buffalo explored why exercise can prevent relapse for those struggling with addictions to alcohol, nicotine, stimulants, and opioids. They found that daily aerobic exercise was able to alter dopamine pathways in animals. It is speculated that if exercise can change dopamine in animals, then exercise may do the same thing in the human brain. If this is true, then this would explain why exercise often precludes a decrease in relapse rates amongst those suffering addiction

How Dopamine Maintains Addiction

Dopamine is the brain’s pleasure chemical. When this neurotransmitter is released, a person experiences immense pleasure throughout the brain and body. Recent studies indicate that dopamine plays a more significant role in provoking people to repeat the behaviors that give them those pleasurable sensations through positive reinforcement. When someone ingests an addictive substance, that person’s brain surges with dopamine through dopamine pathways which forms a brain circuit for using the substance.

This brain circuit is like an ingrained habit with expectations of performing the same activity in the future, which is why when someone stops taking the drug, the brain freaks out, and withdrawal occurs. If exercise indeed alters these dopamine circuits, then exercise can potentially help someone break free from these ingrained habits of drug use.

Finding Help for Substance Addiction

Habits are one of the most challenging things to break, but substance addiction is at a whole other level. If you feel trapped in the habit of drug or alcohol addiction, meaning that you cannot stop, then please contact Chelsea By the Sea at 1 (844) 31-CLEAN.

We can provide you with information on our California addiction and recovery programs so you can find the right program for your needs. Chelsea By the Sea offers a family-focused and pet-friendly environment with medically assisted detox, family interventions, and residential treatment programs help you towards long-term sobriety.

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