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Overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol is no easy task. It requires a lot of patience, determination, and trust in the recovery process.

Fortunately, there are a variety of treatment approaches that can be utilized to help people quit using substances and reduce theirrisk for relapsing.

Many treatments for substance use disorders focus on the mental aspects of addiction. While therapy and counseling can help people who are struggling with addictions manage their feelings, others may find that exercise can lessen drug and alcohol cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Exercise Can Help You Conquer Addiction

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and psychotherapy areoften recommended for individuals who are addicted to opioids. MAT can double the rate of abstinence from opioids, while psychotherapy can help improve one’s behaviors and emotions.But when you throw exercise into the mix, it can further increase the odds that someone will maintain long-term recovery from an addiction.

A small study investigated the effects of an exercise program completed by a group of 20 men and women who were usingsubstances such as cocaine, marijuana, and opioids. This exercise program consisted of a group exercise session three times a week over a two-to-six-month period. Five years following the study, 10 of them had decreased their substance use and five of them were abstinent.

There are countless exercises and workouts available today. These can range from strength training such as weightlifting and performing arts such as dancing to sports including soccer andbasketball and going for a run around the neighborhood. Workout options are available in gymnasiums, recreational centers, the great outdoors, and even the comfort of our own homes.

A structured exercise plan can improve your emotional state and the effectiveness of other treatments. However, this depends on a person’s willingness to regularly engage in physical activity.

How to Stay Motivated

For some people, medication-assisted treatment is a must to make withdrawal symptoms more manageable. In fact, people who are addicted to opioids and continuously take methadone or other medications designed to treat opioid dependence as directed are at a much lower risk for death from overdose or otherwise. Counseling services and peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous also help those who are suffering from addictions understand the reasons behind their struggles with substance use, process their experiences, and discuss ways to make positive behavioral changes.

While more research is required to determine how effective different exercises are in the treatment of substance use disorders, there is evidence to suggest that working out can help people achieve sobriety. Exercise can reduce alcohol and drug cravings, improve one’s mood, and minimize the distressing symptoms of detox and withdrawal. But the challenge lies in staying motivated and sticking to your workout plan.

Consistent exercise in the context of addiction treatment is favored by many for its role in helping distract people frompowerful alcohol and drug cravings. When incorporating physical fitness into your existing treatment plan, it is important to determine what keeps you moving so that you don’t get bored of your workout regimen and stop exercising on a regular basis.

Exercise can be a huge component of addiction recovery, but those who are struggling to quit using should be careful not to abandon other treatments. They should also ease into exercise to avoid injury or burnout. Whether someone’s treatment planincludes therapy, medication-assisted treatment, peer support groups, or a combination of these, adding exercise to the mix shows potential for effectively treating addiction.

Another way to keep yourself motivated is to join an individualized group exercise program or find a coach who is dedicated to helping people overcome drug or alcohol addictions through physical training. Exercise alone may not be enough to help you overcome an addiction, but it is a great addition to any addiction treatment plan.

About Azure Acres Recovery Center

Azure Acres Recovery Center has been providing addiction treatment services for more than 60 years. Programming at Azure Acres has evolved through the decades to reflect evidence-based improvements in the science of addiction treatment. By providing person-focused care that is based on the time-tested principles and practices of the 12-Step recovery model, Azure Acres has helped more than 20,000 people take the first steps toward a drug-free future. For more information, please visit


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