Endorphins are the source of the “the runner’s high” that endurance athletes often rely upon to get them through arduous physical events. They are neurotransmitters and a natural painkiller that is released when a body experiences stress or pain. Like dopamines, they are also released when a person experiences an enjoyable event. Endorphins share certain chemical structures with morphine and create similar sensations of euphoria. Because of their ability to make a person feel good, researchers are examining the role that endorphins can play in assisting drug addicts and alcoholics to recover from their addictions.
Researchers have discovered a connection between endorphins and a second neurotransmitter, anandamide, which is more prevalent in the brains and nervous systems of athletes and other persons who are experiencing higher levels of physical stress. High levels of anandamide in a person’s brain correlates with higher endorphin levels in their bloodstreams. Anandamides have a similar structure to tetrahydrocannibinol, which is the active ingredient in marijuana. Further, physical activity increases the levels of energy-inducing norepinephrines in a person’s system.
Individuals who are attempting to break an addiction habit do well to participate in activities that increase their endorphin levels, but they should also understand that exercise-induced endorphins are not a cure-all for their addiction. Exercise is an evidence-based treatment method, however, proven to reduce symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety. In combination with clinical treatment, exercise creates a holistic program of recovery. As with the other tools that addiction recovery counselors use to help recovering addicts, exercise and increased physical activity are only one facet of a greater recovery program that will include group therapy, one-on-one counseling, and long-term focus and attention on a drug abuse or alcoholism problem.
Design For Change takes a mind, body, spirit approach to the treatment of addiction and alcoholism by incorporating a twelve step philosophy into clinical treatment. Our holistic program restores health and happiness by helping clients change their lives one step at a time. Call us today for information on our customizable treatment programs: (877) 267-3646