Can Exercise Help Kick The Habit of Drug?

Most long-time drug users find it hard to quit because they are no longer able to experience the “rush” associated with drug use. Even after undergoing a tedious rehab and detoxification, they experience frequent cravings that often end in a relapse. A long-term abuse of drugs leads to significant changes in the chemistry of the brain, driving the compulsive drug use.

Through detoxification, it is possible to remove the toxins and pump in essential nutrients back into the system, but psychological cravings cannot be uprooted this way. While a substantial amount of willpower is needed for beating the odds, there are many who have successfully curbed their addiction problem by bringing about positive changes in their lifestyle. Studies have shown that staying clean can be easier if one indulges in some sort of physical activity, such as cycling, running, sprinting, etc. Apparently, any form of physical activity that is of a competitive nature releases endorphins, the body’s natural opiates.

Physical exercise helped personalities tackle their addiction

As in the case of legendary rapper Eminem, who took to sports after his stay at a rehab, people can tread the path of sobriety by making exercise a priority in their life. At one point of time, Eminem had been addicted to painkillers as he has himself admitted taking 60 pills a day. In fact, his addiction was so severe that in 2005 he was admitted to a hospital, where doctors informed that he had little chances of recovery as all his vital organs were shutting down.

Post rehab, he found it hard to sleep and constantly required food to soothe the stomach pains, which invariably led to an increased weight. It was then that Eminem took to running. Exercise provided him the much-needed endorphin rush. “Exercise gave me a natural endorphin high, but it also helped me sleep, so it was perfect. It’s easy to understand how people replace addiction with exercise,” he said in an interview with the Men’s Journal.

Another celebrity who took to extensive exercise to get rid of the drug habit is Shaun Ryder, the English musician and songwriter. He reportedly indulged in rigorous cycling to get drugs out of his system. Interestingly, strenuous workouts such as cycling, swimming and running prevent people from thinking about drugs.

Exercise: A natural stress buster and endorphin releaser

In order to understand how exercise could trigger the same pathways that are responsible for drug addiction and for the cravings thereafter, it is necessary to understand how the brain reacts to standard drugs. An old study by researchers from Johns Hopkins University explained how brain’s pathways are affected by drugs. The researchers found that the brain’s neurons had some very specific receptor sites for drugs such as opium, heroin, codeine or morphine. On further analysis, it was found that the active ingredient in morphine, resembled the chemical constituent of endorphin, the feel-good hormone released by the brain, in certain ways.

Once ingested, drug molecules attach themselves to the endorphin-receptor sites present on the nerve endings in the brain and trigger chemical responses that could be more potent than the response generated by endorphins. Subsequently, the individual feels a sense of elevation or euphoria.

When a person exercises in the gym or outdoors, he or she feels a similar “endorphin rush.” Depression and anxiety are common responses post a rehab. However, when a person engages in strenuous physical activities, such as cycling or running, the body experiences a natural rush of feel-good hormones, which prevents his or her cravings for drugs.

Leading a drug-free life is possible

Different drugs cause particular types of reactions in the brain. When it comes to misuse of drugs like cocaine or heroin, even a meager proportion can be dangerous to one’s health.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to any addictive drug, contact the Arizona Drug Addiction Helpline to get information on the finest drug addiction treatment clinics in Arizona. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866–576–4147 for further information on drug rehabilitation centers in Arizona.