How Exercise Keeps You Sober
We talk about the importance of physical training and ongoing exercise a lot here at Addiction Recovery because the benefits to living a fit, healthy lifestyle are paramount in importance to a sober life. You might be tempted to think that’s just because going for a run every day or tracking your lifting gains serves to distract you from the cravings and activities that lead to relapse. While that’s certainly an added bonus to a commitment to fitness, it’s actually not the primary reason it works for those in drug or alcohol recovery.
The University of Texas Southwest Medical Center has a doctor and research team who have been studying this very thing. Dr. Madhukar H. Trivedi is a psychiatrist and program director for Mood Disorders Research in Dallas. His team has been studying large groups of struggling addicts who are at various stages of adding exercise and fitness to their recovery program. While Dr. Trivedi advocates all forms of treatment, he believes exercise and fitness may be the key to revolutionizing your recovery.
In addition to distracting you from your former lifestyle and the lingering cravings, exercise boosts critical hormones and chemicals in the brain, including dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline. These are the very same chemicals that are released when you use drugs or alcohol. They’re the feel-good chemicals that make you always want more. Trivedi believes if you can get yourself into a controlled routine and stimulate your body to supply these fixes naturally, you won’t even want to reach for the old quick fix.
Adjusting your lifestyle to a serious fitness and exercise program will change your life. According to Trivedi, exercise actually re-grooves your brain, laying down new neural pathways to replace the old ones. Basically you can re-wire your brain away from the addict to the athlete.
Getting started with an exercise program can seem daunting at first but once you make yourself go a few times, it starts to become a part of your daily routine and your lifestyle. After that, you become a new person. Why not give it a try?