Exercise to Overcome Addiction

The link between exercise and better overall health is firmly established, and today doctors often encourage patients to incorporate physical activities in the treatment of many medical conditions. The link between exercise and mental health is also well-known but is often overlooked anyway. The connection between mental health and physical health goes both ways: When a person feels stress, the body experiences physical fatigue and wear-and-tear. When a body is healthy and fit, the person experiences elevated moods. Part of the reason for this is the production of endorphins during exercise.

The Link Between Exercise and Well-being

Some facts about this relationship are clear:

  • Aerobic exercise reduces tension, improves sleep, and increases self-esteem.
  • Just five minutes of exercise stimulates anti-anxiety changes in the body.
  • A 10-minute walk could lead to several hours of relief from a depressed mood.
  • Exercise stimulates processes in the brain that increase the ability to deal with stress.
  • Physically active people show lower levels of anxiety than sedentary people.

With plenty of research to back up the idea that exercise, or basically any regular physical activity, can powerfully affect a person’s mood and overall well-being, it isn’t surprising that many therapists recommend exercise as part of their therapy and treatment.

Treating Depression With Exercise

For some clients, therapists have found that regular exercise is as effective as medication in treating the symptoms of depression. This doesn’t mean people should quit taking their medications, but it should encourage them to add twenty minutes to an hour of activity in their daily routines. As with all types of therapy, exercise may be more effective for one person than for another.

Physical Healing and Repair

For those clients who have the added issues of drug or alcohol dependency, regular exercise is an important tool for repairing the physical and emotional damage the body has experienced. Many medications, both prescription and illegal, affect the body’s systems, including a person’s ability to be satisfied or happy. Exercise may improve and repair the body’s systems, including brain chemistry.

Exercise as an Element of Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a chronic condition. The substances involved affect the structure of the brain and lead to many unhealthy behaviors. While working to overcome these conditions, individuals need to develop new habits to replace the behaviors that support substance abuse. One very positive option is exercise (or physical activity.)

As already discussed, this new behavior has benefits including repair to brain chemistry, improved sleep and mood, and improvements in overall well-being. However, regular physical activities provide several other vital advantages, including distractions from cravings and reductions of other medical conditions that exacerbate addictions.

Health care providers and therapists are using treatment methods that combine exercise with other recovery practices. For example, the addict 2 athlete program focuses on balance in areas such as health, recreation, diet, and exercise, eliminating and replacing addictive attributes with “things of greater value.”

Exercise Is For Everyone

Anyone, with or without an addiction to face, should add exercise to their daily routine. From taking a short walk during lunch to training to compete in an athletic event, daily exercise has long term benefits. For those who are working to change their current lifestyle, adding a few minutes of physical activity to each day could significantly improve their chances.

An Insight into Addiction Treatment

Decades ago, there weren’t that many treatment options for alcoholics and addicts. It was 12-step group meetings combined with the wisdom of the big book for AA or NA. Today there are many approaches to recovery from addiction and today’s treatment centers (like never alone recovery) work to give everyone an opportunity to recover however they’re most comfortable doing so. Although 12 step groups are incredibly effective for some people, there are others who respond better to therapy or other group activities and structures. There is no “one way” to get better these days and that gives a lot of addicts and alcoholics hope for the future.

Addiction itself is identified as dependence on any type of substance or activity that interferes with one’s well-being. Alcohol and drug addiction is the dependence on drugs, sometimes mentally, sometimes physically, and sometimes both. Addiction tends to run in phases, with early addiction causing personality changes and mood changes and later addiction presenting the more severe forms of withdrawal seen in today’s addicts and alcoholics.

Withdrawal itself can be a very unpleasant experience in the beginning, but it doesn’t have to be something that a sufferer goes through alone. Recovery centers will help clients get through the most difficult aspects of early recovery, such as the withdrawal symptoms of drugs like heroin or cocaine or substances like alcohol. After early withdrawal symptoms disappear, the multifaceted approaches to addiction recovery can really begin to shine through and propel clients toward a new time in their life when they’re just being introduced to the Sober Nation.

Counseling and dual diagnosis

One of the first approaches to addiction is to address it with individual counseling and dual diagnosis treatment. This means that a counselor looks for underlying mental illness as one of the culprits of the addiction. If the underlying illness is treated, then the addiction itself will have a much greater chance of going into remission. Counselors speak with clients one on one and determine what the primary problems are. If there’s a dual diagnosis along with addiction, they can treat that, too.

Group meetings

Addiction has benefited tremendously from 12-step programs, but those aren’t the only group meetings people have to turn to. There are plenty of other treatments that take place in a group setting and give addicts and alcoholics the opportunity to explore their problem with others who have a similar problem. These meetings might focus on addiction sometimes, but other times the meetings might focus on other facets of addiction, such as how to recover from an addiction financially or in interpersonal relationships.

Peer support

An oft overlooked part of recovery deals with the people who are together in the recovery center as a group. They almost always get some kind of benefit by being around people who have encountered the problems of addiction themselves. Lifelong friendships sometimes form as people enter their group meetings and become a sober community together. As they work through all of the various stages of recovery, they provide an insight into addiction that only another addict can possess.

Aftercare and Social Services

Sometimes addiction takes such a toll on someone’s life that cessation alone will not fix all of the complex problems brought about by the addiction. This is when a social worker can help an addict tap into a community’s social services and get other types of help that they need in aftercare. They might help addicts get the food assistance they need during early recovery, they might help an addict get a job that they need to get back on their feet, and they help them locate the community’s many support groups that they might benefit from attending. After release from the detox or sober living facility, addicts and alcoholics can continue to take advantage of these programs and prevent a relapse during the harsh first couple of months or years back out in the world.

All of these many faces of addiction form a complex web of help that every alcoholic and addict can benefit from over the course of their recovery. It should always be remembered that addiction is a lifelong disease. While there may be times that addicts or alcoholics don’t crave or feel pressure to use, there will usually be some rough patches in life that might call for one or all of these resources to prevent relapse. The great news is that they’re out there for anyone who is devoted enough to their sobriety to use them, and all of these services are usually just a phone call away.

One for the Road – a Plan for Managing Alcohol Use

There are many reasons for drinking. Often, it comes with the job. Maybe it’s part of the culture of your profession. Perhaps your closest circle of friends like a regular glass of wine. Or it’s the ball game or barbeque with the guys that always involves a beer.

Not participating can make you stand out in ways you don’t want to. You may fear, not without reason, that if you don’t drink at all it signals that you have had a problem, even if that is not the case.

People drink for fun. They drink to relax. A glass or two of wine every day is thought by many to be a healthy practice.

But maybe you worry that you might drink too much. Not a lot. And certainly not out of necessity. But you’re the kind of person who needs to be sure that you control it and it does not control you.

If you think you drink too much

This piece isn’t for the person who is out of control and needs professional help. If you do, by all means seek help. Alcoholics Anonymous is a good place to start. There are clinics like Recovery Village (https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/) that offer a whole array of services that can help.

Beating alcohol addiction can be a long and bumpy road, so the best advice is to keep it under control in the first place. Here are a few ways for the individual who lives a self-determined life to do that.

What you should do

Chose your friends well. Stay connected with people who, like you, are going places and seek excellence in their chosen fields. If you’ve attended a high school reunion, you can’t help but be struck by the people who are doing pretty much the same things they did in high school. Their lives have gone nowhere. This isn’t your crowd.

Be honest with yourself. What triggers the urge to drink in you? Look seriously at the times you drank too much and ask yourself what made that happen. If you can identify triggers, you can take measures to avoid them in the future.

When you fail, see it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and move on. You would do the same in other areas of your life. Successful people make mistakes. They just don’t make the same ones twice.

Make fitness a priority. If it isn’t already, set yourself up with a reasonable and effective exercise plan, a good diet and make time for restful sleep.

Educate yourself. Read up on what works to control drinking.

Make controlling your drinking a goal. Write out a plan and carry it out like a New Year’s resolution.

Set up your home environment to help you limit your drinking. If you don’t want to drink, don’t have the stuff in the house. Make it so that if you decide to drink, you have to make a special effort to go out and buy it.

It helps to write out the ways alcohol can be detrimental to your life. It costs money. Calculate the amount of money you would save if you never bought another drink. It can hurt relationships. Perhaps your partner worries about your drinking. Even if it doesn’t worry you, take a closer look at what your loved ones think.

Dennis Rodman once famously said that he never intended to be anyone’s role model. But you can’t help setting an example for people who look up to you. You are someone’s role model, good or bad, whether you want to be or not.

Can Coffee or Energy Drinks Lead to Addiction?

It may seem strange to bring up the term “addiction” in conjunction with a pastime that many  see as common and harmless, but, in fact, that morning pick-me-up you enjoy each day does meet all the criteria. And while coffee consumption certainly doesn’t carry the same stigma as the abuse of illegal drugs or alcohol, it does carry many of the same symptoms and a level of risk that might surprise you.

The same goes for that energy drink you may consume in the afternoon when your concentration level is lagging. Sure, energy drinks are perfectly legal, like coffee, and can be purchased at most stores, but that doesn’t mean they don’t carry many facets regularly associated with addiction.

“I Haven’t Had My Coffee Yet”

If you find yourself saying this, then the joke may carry a little more weight than you thought. One of the main definitions of addiction is that the addict needs the substance or activity they are addicted to in order to function properly. If you cannot function at top level without your morning coffee, then the probability is high that you are addicted to caffeine. Once you’ve had those first couple sips and you start feeling right again, this is similar to how a cocaine or heroin addict feels when abusing their preferred substance. Of course, unlike with these substances, with coffee you are engaging in something that is completely socially acceptable. But this doesn’t mean you aren’t addicted.

If you’re in the habit of slamming an energy drink each morning or afternoon, then chances are you meet the addiction criteria as well. Do you feel out of sorts if you haven’t had your energy drink? Do you find it tougher to function? This feeling is not too far off from what an alcoholic feels when they haven’t had their first drink of the day, so while having that energy drink at work might not carry the same stigma as drinking alcohol at your desk, it does carry a prime aspect of addiction.

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Caffeine Withdrawal

One way to figure out if you are addicted to coffee or energy drinks is quite simple: stop drinking them. If you do so and end up suffering from headaches, lack of energy, the inability to think straight, and a marked drop-off in interpersonal relations and work productivity, then you can assume that you are, in fact, addicted to your beverage of choice. According to ridgefieldrecovery.com, an individual who is addicted to heroin may suffer much worse withdrawal symptoms. In contrast, withdrawing from coffee or energy drinks will not require a stay in a detox center, but if you experience these  withdrawal symptoms then you are an addict indeed.

Fortunately, if you do decide to cut out coffee or energy drinks as a New Year’s Resolution or as part of a health or diet goal, the withdrawal symptoms are incredibly mild when compared to other substances. Quitting coffee is much easier than quitting smoking, and it isn’t the lifelong struggle of cocaine or heroin withdrawal. So if the fact that you are addicted to caffeine bothers you and you would like to do something about it, you are in for a much easier ride than with many other substances.

The Socially Acceptable Addiction

Coffee and energy drinks are so ingrained with mainstream acceptable behavior that it may come as a surprise to many to find out that they are addicted to these beverages. As such,  many coffee drinkers are exposed to some of the same negative aspects as hardcore drug addicts, only on a lesser scale.

Even recovering drug addicts are allowed coffee and energy drinks in most programs. This is indicative of the level of acceptance that these beverages enjoy in modern times. Unlike smoking and other tobacco products, coffee and energy drink advertisements are unsanctioned and aired and printed freely. You can’t walk ten feet in most cities or towns without coming across a coffee shop or a store that sells energy drinks. Unlike bars or establishments that sell alcohol, there are no regulations or ordinances for the sale of coffee and energy drinks.

Just because your favorite beverage is accepted and enjoyed by most aspects of society, doesn’t mean that you aren’t addicted to that beverage and exposed to some of the pitfalls that come with addiction.