Therapy during addiction recovery can incorporate numerous strategies depending on the individual. The optimal approach is comprehensive – considering all aspects of a person’s health and well-being, including mental, physical, spiritual and emotional aspects. Find out how exercise, massage, and equine therapy can address the needs of the body, mind, and spirit during the process of addiction recovery and can be a part of a holistic approach to treating addiction.

Benefits Of Exercise Therapy During Addiction Recovery

Everyone knows the advantages of exercising regularly, but many may not be aware of the positive impact physical activity has on the body and mind during recovery. Consider the following benefits of incorporating exercise therapy in addiction recovery:

Reduces Cravings 

The National Institute of Health reports physical activity and substance dependence have a contradictory relationship. It indicates regular exercise can help cancel out the cravings individuals may experience during addiction recovery. The report explains that physical activity has a positive influence on endorphins in the brain, which is why incorporating it in treatment programs is successful as a means of combating the emergence of cravings and preventing them from arising again.

Reduces Stress 

Many individuals develop addictions as a coping mechanism for dealing with stress, but often the strain of alcohol or drug dependence tends to become another cause of an individual’s anxiety. Exercise releases stress-combating chemicals and has been shown to reduce both acute and chronic stress levels. Since stress is a factor all people in recovery will have to learn to manage in order to deter the chances of relapse, incorporating exercise into one’s treatment plan is an excellent means of keeping stress at bay and establishing a healthy routine.

Improves Sleep 

Problems with sleep are particularly common in the primary stages of recovery due to the impact of substance cessation. Many people going through recovery report having trouble falling asleep, remaining asleep, or even having the desire to sleep at all. With the capacity to help people get to sleep faster and improve sleep quality overall, regular exercise is an excellent solution for handling sleep issues during the beginning of recovery.

Helps Mood 

Mood changes tend to happen frequently throughout a detox from substances or alcohol and may continue to affect an individual throughout the early stages of recovery. Mood changes may cause individuals to gravitate between feelings of optimism and depressive symptoms. While mood shifts are a normal part of adjusting to life without substances, endorphins released by the brain during exercise can drastically improve a recovering individuals mood and help them sustain positive energy levels throughout the recovery process.

According to research from Mayo Clinic, working out for as little as 30 minutes per day releases enough endorphins to promote positive emotions and hopeful feelings. When incorporated during the early phases of recovery, exercise therapy can assist individuals in regulating and managing their emotions as they start to face the challenges of everyday life without substances.

Benefits Of Massage Therapy During Addiction Recovery 

Most people understand that massages can reduce stress and promote relaxation. What remains unrecognized, though, is the ability of massage therapy to help patients who are in the primary phases of detoxing from drugs or alcohol. The benefits of massage therapy during addiction recovery:

Repairs Dopamine Levels 

Addictive behaviors cause the brain to release dopamine at high levels, which propels individuals to continuously seek more gratification by continuing to use the drug. As time goes on, those struggling with addiction become dependent on the drug to release dopamine, which has a severe impact on their brain’s chemistry. In the early stages of detox and withdrawal, dopamine levels in patients fall substantially, which can make the experience both emotionally and physically painful.

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) reports massage therapy helps increase levels of hormones including serotonin and dopamine, which promote positive feelings and alleviate discomfort. Massages are also successful at decreasing levels of cortisol, which is a stress-causing hormone.

Alleviates Pain And Promotes Metabolic Health 

Massage therapy activates the body’s nervous system, prompting improved blood circulation and support for the functioning of the lymphatic system. This system helps reduce symptoms of pain and is liable for cleansing the body’s build-up of metabolic waste. This impact is especially helpful for those at the beginning stages of recovery as it detoxifies your body by pushing out the toxic chemicals lingering in your system after substance abuse.

Healing Touch Establishes Trust 

Some individuals struggling with addiction have experienced negative situations that cause them to connect the feeling of being touched with negative emotions or traumatic experiences. Massage therapy offers a way for these individuals to re-train their brain to create a positive connection with the experience of physical contact with another person.

Improves General Health 

Concentrating on the body’s pressure points linked directly to the brain, massage therapy can also help lower the blood pressure and heart rate of patients.

Benefits Of Equine Therapy During Addiction Recovery 

Equine therapy includes activities like feeding, grooming, and leading a horse with the support of a mental health professional and a horse professional.

Promotes Relaxation

Animals have a profound way of relaxing people, which is one of the primary reasons therapy animals have become increasingly incorporated in treatment programs throughout the past ten years. Animals have demonstrated their ability to alleviate stress, reduce pain, and enhance mood.

Shifts Focus 

Horses are generally non-judgmental animals with a profound capacity to mirror the behaviors and mindsets of the people they are interacting with. This interaction helps refocus patients by enabling them to realize their tendency to believe negative thoughts and engage in harmful actions. This process cultivates positive discussions, which lead to beneficial revelations for patients during recovery. Many individuals in recovery report that equine therapy sessions helped them to establish a stronger sense of trust, responsibility, and confidence as they continued to work with the horses.

Exercise, massage, and equine therapies can be instrumental in assisting individuals as they pursue recovery from substance dependence. They can help promote emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being throughout a patient’s life in sobriety.

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