Exercise for Addiction Treatment

Whether you are going on a run, lifting weights, playing a sport, or going on a short walk around the neighborhood, getting active and moving around can improve a person’s physical and mental health. 

Along with enhancing your physical attributes and overcoming mental disorders, exercise has also been shown to be a helpful complimentary treatment to addiction problems. 

Exercise can help with substance abuse treatment in many ways. In fact, studies have shown that exercise reduces drug intake and can help patients stay away from drugs long-term. 

For some it can act as a stress reliever. Often, people in recovery will face many challenges as they confront their demons, going to the gym after therapy sessions can help them unwind and even reflect on what they learned.  

Along with stress relief, exercise has been shown to be an effective relapse prevention tool that can improve an individual’s chance at achieving long-term sobriety. Let’s take a closer look at this. 

Exercise as a Coping Mechanism 

When people are discharged from an addiction treatment center, they normally have a lot of time on their hands with their newfound sobriety. While this is a good thing as it can help people learn new skills or experience new things, the downtime can also lead to negative thoughts which can lead to negative actions. 

When people have more free time, they tend to get caught up in their urges and cravings to use, it can be too powerful for some people to deal with and some people will relapse when exposed to these thoughts. 

This is where exercise can come into play. 

With that extra time on their hands, some people will look to start exercising more. Some join CrossFit, some get into mountain biking, others join the local gym. Whatever the case, getting into a healthy exercise habits will not only allow individuals to fill their time, it will work as a positive coping mechanism. 

Instead of dwelling on thoughts and behaviors that are dangerous and threaten your sobriety, people will go to the gym to relieve stress and get their mind off things. Not only this, but they will also be improving their body and reducing potential mental health problems. 

Exercise for Mental Health 

Along with being used as a tool for relapse prevention, exercise can be a major factor in improving your mental health and even overcoming mental health disorders.  

Often, people dealing with substance abuse issues will have underlying mental health disorders that are contributing to or causing their addiction problem. This is referred to as a dual diagnosis. While in treatment, they must receive treatment for both problems, if they do not, they will likely slip back into an issue.  

Luckily, exercise can help patients who are dealing with these problems. Not only will they use exercise to help get their mind off addiction, they will also use exercise to improve their mental health, effectively improving their chances at long-term recovery. 

Substance Abuse Treatment and Exercise in the Real World 

When it comes to using exercise as a form of treatment in a substance abuse facility, more organizations are implementing it into their curriculum. The Hope House, a drug rehab in Arizona, is one organization looks to help its patients in whatever way possible, including exercise. The Hope House has partnered with Arizona State University to bring additional exercise and mindfulness training to its patients. 

At The Hope House, patients are treated for problems like alcoholism and opioid addiction as they receive the general forms addiction treatment, they will also go through exercise and mindfulness programs led by trained clinicians.  

These additional programs will help patients continue to learn about addiction and develop actionable relapse prevention strategies that they can use when they leave a treatment facility.