Majority of people who struggle with addiction are searching for a new and easy way to relieve stress and pain. Running is a great alternative. It’s an activity that can be done without much preparation and can be done practically anywhere. Not only does it provide excellent physical health, but the unique mental health benefits are through the roof. By providing individuals who struggle with addiction a healthier and successful method of relief, running can greatly help to reduce the temptations to relapse.
What’s “Runner’s High”?
“I felt this high that I had never felt before—with any drugs, with any alcohol.”
After a satisfying run, runners typically experience feelings of intense “highs”. The mind, body, and spirit are all highly stimulated, elevating a person’s senses to make them happier and calmer. The experience has been called exhilarating and euphoric. Runner’s high also brings down stress levels and provides a more positive outlook on life.
Your Brain On Running: Scientific Side
Dopamine & Addiction:
A healthy brain releases dopamine while doing everyday pleasurable events such as eating or sex. These events are coded into our brain regions that control memory, learning, motivation, and engagement to make sure we do them regularly to live a happy life. Dopamine creates a reward pathway of pleasure. Sometimes bad behaviors such as addictions sneak into the dopamine responses. This causes a tragic spiral of repeating the same negative events and a decrease in dopamine, which means addicts need more and more drugs to repeat the same high from the time before.
Running, Dopamine & Endorphins:
Running produces high volumes of dopamine and endorphins, which signal happiness. Since addicts have low levels of dopamine, running helps build them back up and restore them. Creating this new running event in the brain that’s associated with happiness helps to reprogram the brain by building new neurological pathways. It provides a new intense level of happiness that the brain craves, helping addicts to build new and healthier habits every day.
Turning Excruciating Process to Progress
Running is hard there’s no doubt about it, but so is withdrawal for addicts. They’re both excruciating in two opposite ways. By replacing one with another, it gives a whole new mindset for the addict as well as a brand new challenge. Recovering addicts crave euphoria and satisfaction, which is why running is one of the most powerful cures drug and addiction centers can use. Patients are accomplishing a new goal and experiencing immense euphoria that’s well-deserved and healthy. It’s the best of both worlds.
Positive Effects of Running During Recovery
- Increased discipline for self-care
- Higher self-esteem
- Running provides solo time to think and reflect
- Setting a goal, working towards it, accomplishing it
- Reduced cravings for unhealthy substances
- Reduced cravings for negative behaviors
- Improves heart health (which is usually damaged by drug/alcohol addiction)
- Increases oxygen to the brain and body
- Inspires healing
- Promotes positive outlook on life
Running encourages structure into a recovering addict’s day-to-day schedule to start building a new and healthy life. Patients sometimes feel lost during or after their recovery period, and they’re craving structure. By prioritizing runs every day or a few times a week, they can set new goals such as running races. Whether it’s a 5k or marathon, setting a new goal gives focus on the future while also relearning how to plan ahead and evaluate their priorities. Joining a running group provides confidence, a built-in support group, and the opportunity to make new friends who share your same interests.
Running is one of the many proven holistic therapies used at Malibu Hills Rehab. We offer the highest quality and advanced programs for addiction treatment. Overcoming addiction certainly isn’t easy, but with our caring staff, luxury facility, and personalized plans, we help put you on the pathway to success.