The brain is wired for feeling good. When it takes a hit from drugs or alcohol, it can crave more of it to feel the same. There is no certainty as to why some people become addicted while others do not, only some research and ideas. Many other factors like the environment, genetics, and trauma can play a role in addiction, but nonetheless, people are fighting back against it in recovery. Running is thought to be one way to rebalance neurotransmitters in the brain, boost mood, and provide a safe alternative to numbing out with drugs or drink. Learn more about why people are turning to running in the fight against addiction.
When the brain is healthy, it releases dopamine to promote the search for food and procreation. As mammals, these are two things people need to keep the species alive. As these things are accomplished, memories are made, learning is created, and motivation is bolstered to keep people going back to those activities to ensure survival. Drugs and alcohol act in a way that hijacks the dopamine flow in the reward pathway and programs the brain to think it needs more alcohol or drugs to function. Life becomes more about keeping up with the next fix than anything else. Nothing will matter, says the brain, if drugs and alcohol are not present. Exercise is one way to create a healthy system in the brain to normalize glutamate signaling in the brain. The brain may even repair itself while running and working up a sweat, producing new cells and giving the body and brain necessary oxygen.
One of the best ways to connect with others in recovery is to find a mutually agreed upon activity or hobby and jump into it wholeheartedly. Running is not only good for the brain and body, but it helps you socialize and get out to meet people doing something different. There may be recovery runs or people running for causes that you can join up with. It may be that you just enjoy the company on runs for fun. Being able to get out of the house, meet up with others struggling with the same issues you have, and find healing is key to making sure you stay focused on recovery. Other things to consider include:
- Staying hydrated with enough water
- Eating healthy meals all day
- Staying connected to recovery support groups
- Taking time for self-care
Whatever you end up doing, find a reason to lace up those shoes and hit the road. It may be one of the best things you do for yourself in recovery.
A Step in the Right Direction provides quality care for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. We teach people how to live a sober life through programs, therapeutic support, and evidence-based therapies. Our recovery program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702.