Did you know that exercise therapy plays a role in addiction treatment? Most people think of rehab facilities as focusing mostly on dealing with emotions through traditional therapy. However, there’s so much more that goes into healing. Here’s what you need to know about this treatment option.

Exercise Therapy Isn’t a Novel Approach

young woman feels better from exercise therapyIt’s true that growing numbers of rehab centers are adopting exercise therapy as a treatment. However, proof of its efficacy in helping those with substance abuse problems has been available for a while. Experts agree that it can’t stand alone. It must be part of a comprehensive treatment approach that could include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy that encourages program participants to change areas of negative thinking and acting
  • Dual diagnosis assessment and treatment of possible co-occurring psychiatric disorders such as PTSD and depression
  • Art therapy as a means of expressing yourself non-verbally
  • Group therapy sessions for peer support and targeted education
  • Family therapy, which allows loved ones support to heal and reestablish healthy patterns of communication

Exercise Reduces Stress and Creates Dopamine

Many people fall into drug abuse due to stress. There are too few outlets for dealing with stressors. Typically, you spend your day working or studying, dealing with obligations, and trying to hold things together. When you finally get home, you’re exhausted.

Rather than going back out to a gym, you reach for a drink to calm your nerves and relax. Maybe you take some stimulants to make it through the next few hours of social interactions. Whatever the case may be, one decision leads to the next. Eventually, you find yourself dealing with chemical dependency.

However, exercise reduces stress. It triggers the release of dopamine, which is a feel-good neurotransmitter that the brain produces. Drugs trigger its release artificially. Doing so results in a temporary cessation of natural releases.

That’s why many people in addiction treatment struggle with depression. Exercise therapy can help to jumpstart the release of dopamine again. Additionally, if you’re busy with an enjoyable exercise protocol, you’re probably not thinking about doing drugs. As such, exercising is an excellent way of relapse prevention and cravings control.

How Does Exercise Therapy Work in Rehab?

You might now envision exercise therapy where everyone’s doing jumping jacks. Maybe you’re imagining a drill instructor telling people to drop and give him ten. While this works for some people, that’s not how it works for everyone. For starters, there are all types of fitness levels among people seeking help for drug addiction.

Moreover, not everyone likes to exercise. Let’s face it; few get excited about doing jumping jacks in the morning. That’s why good-quality rehab facilities frequently offer adventure therapy. It’s a group activity.

It might include enjoyable hikes, rock climbing, and outdoor team games. You don’t have to be fit to participate or have a good time. The goal isn’t to build muscle. Instead, you’re learning to interact with peers and cooperate with others.

People in rehab may have burned bridges in the past. You can probably point to loved ones that you’ve isolated yourself from. To get back to interacting with others isn’t something that comes naturally. In a fun setting, however, it’s possible to experience tremendous personal growth in this area.

You work as a team to master challenges. Everyone contributes. Therapists ensure that nobody stays on the sidelines. As you continue with the treatment, you build self-esteem, leadership skills, problem-solving abilities, and communication skills.

Can you envision yourself reaping the benefits of exercise therapy? Find out how it could make a difference in your life today. At Melrose Recovery Group, experts in addiction treatment want to help you. Call 866-271-3438 today to speak to an expert.