Addiction recovery should not be taken lightly. We urge you to go in knowing that it is recovery from a disease and not to expect an overnight change. However this does not mean every step of the way is going to be medical, or miserable. Something as simple as daily exercise can make a huge impact on your recovery.
Chemical Reactions and Addiction Recovery
Exercise actually releases endorphins. Endorphins are a group of neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for blocking pain, and feelings of pleasure and euphoria. During addiction, the substance abused was releasing these endorphins, causing a literal physical need for them. We recognize that recovery from any addiction is only in your mind, we can help you through the physical side effects of recovery.
Working out triggers the release of endorphins, the more vigorous the workout the more likely you will achieve what is referred to as the "runner's high". This is a feeling of euphoria caused by the endorphins in your brain reacting to the stimulus of the workout. Although strenuous workouts will cause this chemical reaction in the brain faster, starting with a slow walk and building up to more rigorous workouts is still beneficial to your health and recovery. Recovery will go much easier for you if you start an exercise program at the same time.
In addition to the chemical reactions cause by endorphins, just getting outside and taking in some sunshine improves mood levels overall. Take it easy on yourself and start pampering your body with an exercise routine that makes you happy during your recovery time. You are making a great effort to improve yourself, forgive yourself for mistakes and take the time out for exercise and other healthy pursuits to fill your time and improve your life.
Increased Social Circle
When you quit a bad habit, losing friends is common. Recovery can be lonely because the people you used to hang out with become triggers that you need to avoid. This is sometimes the hardest part mentally. The act of letting go of people who hold you down can be emotional and lonely.
When you start working out, you will likely discover that your social circle broadens. Many people like to get fit on a buddy system. Find someone with like goals, or someone who is a little more experienced than you. You can keep each other company and urge each other on during the workout.
The mixture of the endorphins and the support system alone will help you reduce stress during this time. However the act of working out itself can ease pent up stress significantly. If you take out your frustration on a punching bag, or pushing yourself through one more mile, or lifting just one more set, you will likely be surprised to discover a great stress reduction through pushing your body a little further each day.
Physically acting out is cathartic and a great way to heal. Punching a weight bag over and over is a figurative way to beat up your problems. It may sound odd but it works. Reduce stress by literally beating it up.
Kick Some of the Withdrawal Symptoms to the Curb
We deal with withdrawal symptoms every day, and we know that they can be miserable. At Pathways we help patients through withdrawals symptoms in various ways depending on the patient and the substance. There is a way you can reduce our symptoms at home without taking anything into your body.
If you take up the habit of exercising in place of the habit you are withdrawing from, you will likely have a reduction of some of the symptoms of the detox or skip some of them altogether. Cravings can be unbearable and studies have shown that a steady workout habit will curb some of the cravings in your body.
The habit of exercising can distract you from the many negative side effects during addiction recovery. It is no secret that establishing healthy habits, and a scheduled routine helps life run better during the tough times. Exercise is a distraction from the realities of addictions that can end up improving your entire appearance and prolonging your life. Replace one bad habit with a good one, and you may not recognize yourself spiritually or physically at this time next year.
Regular exercise has many benefits including cardio-vascular health and diabetes, lowered risk of some types of cancers, it stimulates the immune system, and can even help alleviate depression symptoms. You do not have to hit the gym to exercise, you can hike, bike, take your dog for a walk, even swimming is a great way to get started for very out of shape people because the water supports your joints and allows for more movement. Start slow and build your way up. Find what workout works best for you, even if you have to try several different forms. There is no one path to recovery, and there is no one way to work out.