For many going through the recovery process for drugs or alcohol, it can feel impossible to move past the absence of the “high” created after using whatever drug of choice. Many people become depressed during withdrawal, due to lack of endorphins being provided. As a result, they find themselves susceptible to relapse. However, recent studies show that exercise can help fight depression during recovery. Exercise provides those very same endorphins and satiates the brain’s need to have that “high” feeling.
Not only that, but many people post-treatment feel lost and ill-prepared to deal with stress without the ability to use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. According to recent studies, the brain produces galanin, responsible for reducing stress-induced cravings during exercise. This not only curbs cravings and withdrawal symptoms, it also creates a positive outlet for the individual to focus on in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Matt Boston, who admits to abusing alcohol his entire life, assures that “running is one of the most important parts of my recovery…I can’t say enough about the exercise component.”
Actor Daniel Baldwin has also spoken on how exercise, specifically kettlebell training, is imperative to preventing a drug addiction relapse.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University found that exercise was the only intervention in helping cannabis-dependent users cut their use by more than 50 percent. Also, Frontiers in Psychiatry revealed research that showed how abuse with substances such as cocaine, meth, nicotine, and alcohol could be reduced from exercise.