Recovering from prescription drug addiction is a challenge for a lot of different reasons. The withdrawal period after cessation from abuse of prescription drugs is typically more extended than alcohol and recreational drugs. Lasting post-acute withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia can make life miserable for months at a time.
The good news is that there is an additional method to improve the quality of recovery from prescription drug addiction dramatically and that is a regimen of physical fitness. Below are nine ways that fitness benefits those in recovery from prescription drug addiction.
1. Brain Chemistry.
Physical exercise causes the brain to release a type of neurotransmitter called endorphins. Endorphins are beneficial to recovering addicts because they regulate the chemicals in the body that cause stress. Exercise also stimulates the production of other important neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These three neurotransmitters are the ones that doctors seek to adjust through anti-depressant medication, so exercise is a holistic way to complement medicine or ideally achieve the same result.
Physical fitness makes anyone feel better about themselves. Prescription drug addicts often have issues with self-esteem as a result of their behavior in active addiction. Also, self-esteem issues can be one of the reasons an addict engaged in destructive behavior to start. People tend to notice when someone is getting in shape, and these people are often complimentary, engendering a definite feeling of accomplishment.
When engaging in physical exercise, the mind is always in focus on the task at hand, whether it is weightlifting, aerobics class, a tennis game, or cycling. Most exercise necessitates mental attention to only the performance of a physical function. This type of concentration is the essence of mindfulness, which is a Buddhist concept gaining traction in addiction treatment.
4. Weight Loss.
Active addiction to prescription drugs often leads to a sedentary lifestyle and weight gain. Additionally, people in recovery sometimes overeat to replace the dopamine rush that they received from using drugs. Weight gain makes people feel bad about themselves, creating feelings of frustration and discomfort. Losing weight does the opposite and makes recovering addicts feel good about themselves.
5. Physical Appearance.
Everyone wants to look physically fit and recovering prescription drug addicts are no different. Exercise improves posture, dexterity, and grace of movement. The ability to wear clothes that emphasize physical fitness, instead of clothes that cover up the lack thereof, is exciting and rewarding.
6. Social Activity.
Addiction is a disease of loneliness, so activities that are social are therapeutic. Most physical exercise is social, and an excellent example of this are sober softball leagues. Going to the gym on a daily basis will inevitably lead to meeting new people. Running, walking, or hiking with friends are great ways to exercise and interact socially at the same time.
7. Filling Time that Previously was Spent Using Drugs.
Addicts usually have times of day that they dedicate to drug use, such as after work. Exercise is an excellent way to fill these gaps in time. After work, a trip to the gym will serve as a great alternative to whatever unhealthy activity used to take place. Any free time is dangerous to a prescription drug addict in recovery and exercising during free time is effective in preventing relapse.
8. Cardiovascular Health.
Prescription drug abuse, and the lifestyle that accompanies it wreak havoc on the internal organs of the body, and the heart is no exception. A healthy heart is critical to overall health and well-being, so physical fitness is essential to restore any cardiovascular damage. A cardio routine, or a cardio intensive sport, goes a long way towards optimizing heart health.
9. Improved Quality of Sleep.
Insomnia is a common condition among recovering addicts, and physical exercise is one of the best ways to improve sleep quality. A physical fitness routine is perhaps the most effective method for restoring normal sleep patterns, and proper sleep is vital to overall health and happiness.
In summation, physical fitness integral to a successful recovery from prescription drug addiction. The benefits of an exercise routine for recovering addicts are significant and improve not only the quality of recovery but the quality of life in general. There are many ways to exercise, and everyone can find one that is fun and effective.
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