Addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s life. An addiction occurs when a person develops a physical and/or psychological dependence on something. And contrary to popular belief, it’s possible for a person to become addicted to just about anything.
That said, drug addictions are one of the most common forms of addiction. Many drugs mimic the effects of hormones that bring pleasure and comfort. Continued use of such drugs causes the brain to produce less of its own feel-good hormones such as serotonin or dopamine.
Completely withdrawing from an addiction can be difficult and fatal in some extreme cases. The key to overcoming an addiction is to gradually decrease the use of the drug and slowly replace it with a healthy activity.
The brain needs to slowly recover its ability to produce endorphins and other hormones that keep our moods stable. Exercise can be a good way to beat an addiction. Many of the hormones that the brain produces as a result of reward can be achieved through exercise.
Here are a few ways that exercise can help.
#1. Improved Mood
One of the primary withdrawal symptoms is mood instability. This is because the brain needs to be replenished with the appropriate stimulus to start the process for producing feel-good hormones. The production of hormones that improve moods such as serotonin and dopamine, can occur with moderate exercise. Any exercise that elevates the heart rate causes the brain to produce these hormones as a sense of reward. Many runners enter a euphoric state during an intense run known as a runner’s high. The brain produces a burst of feel-good hormones to improve physical performance.
#2. Better Sleep
Another withdrawal symptom is increased heart rate and paranoia which can disrupt sleep. Aerobic exercises such as a jog around the neighborhood can bring the heart rate to a regular pace. It’s important to exercise on a consistent basis for improved sleep.
#3. Reduced Anxiety and Stress
There are many hormones that are responsible for controlling anxiety and stress. Many of these hormones are associated with a fight or flight response when we are in danger. The hormones that create a feeling of anxiety and stress increase during a withdrawal period. Exercise combats these negative feelings by producing more hormones that create positive feelings.
Exercises such as meditation, yoga, or pilates are good candidates for relieving anxiety and stress. This is because these exercises focus on a mind-to-body connection. Many of the exercises target the abs and other supporting muscle groups that regulate breathing and maintain posture. Efficient breathing helps to stay calm. A better posture can lead to increased self-confidence.
#4. Increased Cognition
The benefits of a better mood, proper sleep, and lower levels of anxiety can clear the mind. Many people exercise to stay mentally sharp, and for good reason. The brain is more active after a workout. This helps to sustain concentration over long periods of time. Critical thinking becomes easier because the brain can function better. A run before an exam or interview can help to put the mind at ease and allow for clearer thinking. Exercise requires discipline. This translates well into other areas of life and makes it easier to accomplish difficult tasks.
#5. Decreased Desire for Drugs
As the body becomes acquainted with regular exercise, the desire for drugs begins to diminish. The brain can produce hormones that recreate elevated sensations of happiness that drugs cannot replicate. This will make the withdrawal process go by much faster. It is important to listen to the body and not ignore withdrawal symptoms. Medication may be necessary to supplement the effects of exercise. Exercise is most effective when the body is in its optimal condition. Through daily exercise, a person can recover from addiction and more vigorous exercises become easier.
#6. Improved Muscle Strength and Physique
Exercise can bring a lot of rewards. One of the most apparent rewards is a fit body. The feeling of confidence that comes with a healthy body outweighs anything a drug can offer. With increased strength, it becomes easier to perform daily chores and activities. A person has more stamina to perform activities with plenty of energy left. The quality of life drastically increases. The most motivating factor is to look ahead to a brighter future.