Fitness A Natural High – As an alternative to drugs
Long term sobriety is the main goal of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction but unless treatment is delivered holistically it is not likely to be successful in the long term.
Substance abuse does not just take a toll on physical health, mental health is also compromised. It is essential that both mental and physical health are assessed in order to provide the best therapies with the highest possible chance of success.
As well as being effective, therapies must also engage the client and one of the things that do this is exercise which can be a positive way of filling time that was previously used in acquiring and abusing drugs. Staying physcially fit and increases endorphins and provides a natural high
Not only that but it also improves general health. Weight is controlled, clients have more energy, more stamina and better protection against things like heart disease but, equally importantly, exercise is known to have a positive effect on mood.
Alongside its role in forming a positive part of recover, exercise can also lead to the development of more healthy habits after treatment.
How Exercise Helps Addiction Recovery and gives the individual a natural high
The main reasons why clients have turned to drugs and alcohol are to escape from stress and increase their ability to cope with life or to silence negative emotions and memories.
When treating the addiction the client then has to deal with the physical effects alongside finding new ways to deal with these stressors. Taking exercise is one of the most popular ways for clients to achieve this because it not only increases their physical well being but also boosts their mood. Using exercise as a healthy way to manage any negative emotions or to overcome challenges is a way to stay motivated during treatment and this can continue into their life after recovery.
When an individual exercises the body releases mood-boosting endorphins which increase feelings of euphoria while simultaneously reducing any negative emotions. Not only that, but it boosts the immune system which helps reverse some of the damage to the body that is known to occur with the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Working up a sweat helps eliminate toxins, improves circulation and boosts energy.
As well as all the physical benefits, exercise works on improving the body aesthetic with an increase in feelings of self-esteem and positive body image; factors that are often implicated as contributory factors in cases of substance abuse. Setting goals, working towards them and ultimately achieving them is a huge boost to their confidence in their ability to overcome challenges.
There are multiple mental health benefits of exercise; it gives an individual a way of releasing stress, anger and the other emotions that are implicated as risk factors for substance abuse. Some forms of exercise can assist with increasing collaborative ability, leadership and communication skills, increase emotional intelligence and encourage new, healthier friendships to develop.
What Type of Exercise?
Clients are individuals and their recovery needs will be unique to them; it makes sense that the same applies to exercise. Different types of fitness can be used as a natural high. There is a huge choice available, all of which offer physical and mental challenges. Encouraging the client to explore these options gives another opportunity for them to explore their own wishes and discover new interests. It is a key way of enabling them to look outside of their own comfort zone to find new engaging and enjoyable activities.
A more solitary individual may find joining a gym beneficial because of the ability to exercise alone. There are a number of amenities on offer in gym facilities including cardio and strength training, weights, swimming pools, etc. There is also the option of working with a trainer if an individual finds this beneficial and in doing so they can tailor-make their activities and goals according to their own wishes. Other solo sports include golf, skiing, rock climbing and running.
For the more social client there are a many groups that offer the opportunity to join teams in soccer, basketball, hockey and others, alongside other activities like yoga and dance classes. This gives the opportunity to expand social networks, develop teamwork, increase mood and build new, healthier relationships.
Some clients want more of a challenge and there has been a growth in the availability of non-traditional activities. Things like surfing, mountain biking, horse riding and sky diving can be exhilarating and lead to the discovery of new lifelong passions. Clients can work together to help each over overcome challenges and provide motivation and moral support. These types of activity are often used as experimental therapies but with the right clients have provided opportunities for individuals to push their own boundaries and gain huge benefits.
Exercise is Important for Young Adults
Exercise of any intensity has been shown to reduce relapse risk in young adults recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. Many of these positive effects are not directly related to the activity but provide benefits by encouraging healthy activities, establishing routines and time management and provides the individual with a natural high. The client benefits from increases in energy and improvements in mood and the idea of sobriety becomes more appealing. In addition, the time used by working out takes account of some of the time freed up by not needed to acquire or abuse alcohol or drugs.
In the modern world the use of technology is something that affects young adults more than any other group. The amount of sleep and physical activity a person gets is impacted by their use of devices and these are factors that increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. This is a relatively new discovery and is important to factor in to any rehabilitation regime because a large proportion (6 out of 10) of people struggling with addiction also have a mental health problem.
Physical fitness has proven to be an excellent way to address and counteract some of the factors that lead to increase likelihood of substance abuse and does allow recovering addicts to experience a natural high. Exercise can continue long after treatment ends and is useful to build a strong foundation for a healthy future lifestyle. The positive effects of exercise combine to improve a client’s quality of live and increases the chance that they will be successful in achieving long-term sobriety.
Contact Us at the Last House if you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction and who you think may benefit from our programs implementation of fitness as a natural high.