The Link Between Exercise and Addiction Recovery

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The Link Between Exercise and Substance Use Recovery

Substance use recovery can be a challenging process that requires a lot of patience, commitment, and support. While various treatment and therapy methods have proven effective in this area, research suggests that physical exercise can also be an impactful addition to the recovery process.

The link between exercise and addiction recovery is undeniable. Engaging in physical exercise during recovery has proven to be impactful and effective. Studies show that individuals who use physical exercise as part of their recovery are more likely to sustain their sobriety compared to those who don’t. Here are 5 ways physical exercise can help individuals in recovery:

1.     Improved Mood and Mental Health:

Substance use takes a heavy toll on an individual’s mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, and stress – not to mention individuals who self-medicate because of mental health issues. Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce the occurrence of negative emotions. Exercise has also been linked to the release of endorphins, also known as “feel-good” hormones. These endorphins act as natural mood boosters, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression often associated with substance use recovery. They promote a sense of well-being and help individuals combat cravings by providing an alternative, healthier way to cope with psychological distress.

In addition, when people have a substance use disorder, much of their life revolves around obtaining and using the substance. For example, someone with a drinking problem might attend a lot of events where alcohol is provided or regularly frequent bars. Part of recovery involves re-centering an individual’s life, hobbies, and habits to focus on fulfillment, health, or creativity rather than substance use. Exercise requires lifestyle changes that fit well within the recovery process.

2.     Enhanced Cognitive Function

Research has demonstrated that physical activity is linked to improved cognitive function. Regular exercise can enhance memory, attention span, and decision-making skills, which are essential in staying focused on recovery goals. Furthermore, engaging in physical activity can increase self-discipline and self-control, crucial qualities needed to maintain sobriety.

3.     Relapse Prevention

Physical exercise has been known to ease withdrawal symptoms, like cravings, thus reducing the likelihood of relapse. Exercise can alleviate physical and psychological symptoms in recovering addicts, including irritability, anxiety, and depression.

By participating in regular exercise, individuals in recovery create a structured routine that fills their time with productive and healthy activities. This not only helps in avoiding triggers but also provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Additionally, physical activity can help regulate sleep patterns, reducing the likelihood of relapse.

4.     Overall Wellness

Engaging in physical activity can have a positive effect on an individual’s physical health. It is known to improve cardiovascular health, strengthen the immune system, boost self-confidence, and help with weight management. The overall positive impact on physical health can benefit those in recovery tremendously. It helps restore balance to the body, which may have been compromised during periods of substance use. Exercise can positively impact one’s sense of self and improve self-esteem, both of which are essential for long-term recovery.

Some people use substances because of chronic illnesses or pain. Physical therapy and tailored workouts can help them manage pain or recover their range of motion without resorting to self-medication.

5.     Social Support and Community Engagement

Participating in group exercise activities or exercise classes can provide an opportunity to connect with others who are also on a recovery journey. The sense of camaraderie and support can be invaluable, cultivating healthy friendships and reducing feelings of isolation. Additionally, being part of a community focused on well-being encourages accountability and motivation, helping individuals stay on track.

It is important to note that engaging in physical exercise should not replace traditional recovery methods or therapy sessions. It should be seen as an addition to the treatment plan, which can help to improve reintegration into society and encourage the maintenance of sobriety. Providers must consider an individual’s unique circumstances when adding exercise to their client’s treatment plan to make sure they’re achievable and will help the client.

Physical activity can play a crucial role in addiction recovery. It can complement traditional treatment methods and help promote physical and psychological healing. As such, healthcare providers should incorporate physical exercise into the treatment plan of those in substance abuse recovery programs to improve recovery outcomes.

EchoVantage offers the tools substance use recovery providers need to make a positive impact on their community. From reporting to billing, our EHR simplifies your daily tasks to focus on creating positive outcomes. Schedule a demo today, and let us show you how we could help your agency.

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