Can Exercise Help With Beating Addiction?

Upon seeking help in treating addiction, many addicts will be pointed in the direction of exercise. Getting into a stable fitness routine has a magnitude of benefits for someone recovering from addiction. However, it is extremely important that you are not simply substituting one form of addiction for another. It can be used to help you to stay on track but it is essential that you do not use exercise as an avoidance tactic at the expense of acceptance.


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People go down many routes to recover from all manner of addictions. However, an education in nutrition and fitness is often cited as one of the best ways to rehabilitation from many different types of addiction. This is largely due to the benefits that maintaining a nutritious diet and engaging in regular activity can bring. Experts at have found that patients who dedicate time to building better eating patterns and improving their fitness can experience lower levels of stress and anxiety. Many also see a marked improvement in their energy levels.

Exercise and its impact on addiction is gaining a higher level of recognition, with several studies now looking into the effects of exercise in those who have suffered stimulant abuse. Not only does exercise quite literally fill up your time and distract your brain, it provides an increase in the hormones which are triggered in the brain’s pleasure center. These hormones such as dopamine and serotonin are sparked during recreational drug use. Therefore, exercise can act as a substitute for more harmful ways of enhancing mood.

Another area which has been looked into is the role of exercise in neuroplasticity. This is the term given the ability of the nervous system to heal itself. When a person engages in drug taking, it can cause damage to the nervous system. However, with work it can be repaired. This adaptation can allow you to set up new memories and patterns of behavior which can help you to avoid a relapse.


When people exercise, it can prompt some addicts into feeling accountability. You set a goal and you work towards. When you reach the goal, you own it. It’s yours. You begin to see that your choices have tangible outcomes. Stress levels decrease right alongside this increase in accountability, thanks to the boost in serotonin. Quite simply, you feel better about yourself. As we all know, it’s far easier to have a positive outlook when you feel better about yourself.

Yet, there still exists a fear that exercise, especially in an extreme form, is merely a substitution technique. It could be argued that for many, a workout is still a form of disassociation. Patients must learn to do the level of exercise which lets them work towards health goals, without putting themselves at risk. As soon as a person starts indulging in risky and disruptive behavior, there is a cause for concern.

Whilst setting goals and working hard to achieve them is a perfectly healthy activity, many who have been addicted have obsessive personalities. It difficult for a person with this type of personality to simply accept their current circumstances. Many need an outlet, which exercise does a great job of providing. There is a balance that must be found. A place between striving to achieve and letting go of that which is outside of your limits. In recovery, it’s known as surrender. Make peace with that which you can’t change. Tackle realistic challenges but never at the expense of your health.

Exercise a key tool which can be used with great success to aid in the rehabilitation of addiction. A 12 step program doesn’t work on a life-long basis for everyone. You have to find what works for you. Exercise provides a fantastic way of establishing and working towards realistic goals. It also has the benefit of significantly improving your physical well-being. Just keep in mind that it should never replace self-acceptance but complement it.

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Examined Existence Team