ADL Health

Health Care & Fitness Advice
Exercise Help Addiction

Can Exercise Help Addiction?

Addiction is something that many people struggle to combat on their own. Publicly-funded drug and alcohol treatment services in Australia treated over 130,000 people in 2017-18, and drug rehab facilities welcome many thousands of new people every year. Those figures don’t include the many thousands of people who are addicts and don’t seek help.

Drug rehab professionals use a range of techniques to combat drug use, such as counselling, psychotherapy, medication, and help groups, but what about exercise? Studies are looking promising for physical activity to be beneficial for those on the road to addiction recovery as well.

Exercise will most likely never become the primary treatment method for drug rehabilitation. It can take more than that to put someone on the straight and narrow and keep them on it. As the figures currently stand, there is a 40 to 60 percent chance of relapse for substance use, according to American Addiction Centre studies.

However, if you pair conventional treatment methods, such as psychotherapy and medication with exercise, you may find it can be rewarding and beneficial for addicts. Studies involving cocaine-dependent rats showed that regular swimming reduced self-administration of cocaine.

While an animal study is not proof of exercise’s efficacy, it does throw the door wide open for further research. For example, 38 drug users – both women and men – agreed to participate in 3-4 group exercise sessions per week for between 2-6 months. Of the 20 who completed the study, five were off drugs within 12 months, and ten had decreased their substance abuse.

Many of those participants also found that exercise could distract them from their drug and alcohol cravings throughout the day, while also adding structure and routine to their regular life. They were even able to form positive social connections with others, something they may not have been able to do in other parts of their life.

Exercise is beneficial and rewarding no matter your life story, but it’s starting to be widely included in drug rehab plans both during and after stays in facilities. Groups and clubs are popping up globally for those with addictions to enjoy hiking, running, rock climbing, yoga, walking, boxing, and more, in a safe and clean environment.

However, it’s essential to understand that it’s not an effective treatment on its own. No treatment method is ever going to be infallible, and drug rehab facilities see positive results using a range of techniques.

If you are currently seeking help at a drug rehab facility, or you feel like exercise could form part of your treatment plan, then talk to a professional. There are many different exercise types out there that could prove valuable for your health, fitness, and rehab goals.