Exercise May be Beneficial for Overcoming Cocaine Addiction

Exercise May be Beneficial for Overcoming Cocaine Addiction

Exercise is beneficial to many systems in the body and also affects mood positively. It elevates the heart rate, improves muscle strength and builds immunity. Mentally, people who exercise generally experience less depression and anxiety. Exercise is one of the basic components for a healthy lifestyle.

A new study examined whether exercise might be beneficial in treating an unexpected disorder: heavy cocaine use. Science Daily reported the results that indicated that aerobic exercise may protect against binge-like patterns among cocaine users. In the study, rats that were given access to running wheels consumed less cocaine than rats that were not exposed to running wheels.

Senior author Mark A. Smith, PhD, of Davidson College presented the research in San Diego at Neuroscience 2010, the annual meeting for the Society of Neuroscience. Smith explained that the findings are the first time exercise has been observed as a tool to reduce binge-like patterns of cocaine intake. The results add to and support the trend in studies shown to help improve harmful patterns of drug use

It is important for researchers such as Smith to examine the effects of exercise on binge-like patterns in drug use. Many drug addictions are exhibited in the form of binge-like patterns, which in turn can have dangerous associations. Negative outcomes associated with binge cocaine use include criminal activity, visits to hospital emergency departments and risky sexual behaviors. Strategies to reduce the frequency and intensity of binges could be significant from a public health perspective.

Smith explains that through randomized clinical trials examining aerobic exercise as a treatment for binge-like cocaine addiction studies recently completed show that individuals who are enrolled in exercise during a formal treatment program are more successful at maintaining abstinence.

The researchers believe that exercise therapy may have a broader role in drug abuse treatment. Though the research prevented here is related to binge-like patterns among cocaine users, it is possible that exercise would be a productive part of a treatment plan for any type of drug abuse problem.

Cocaine addiction is an especially difficult problem to overcome. Over three-quarters of patients enrolled in a substance abuse treatment program for cocaine addiction experience a relapse within six months of finishing the program.

While exercise alone may not be the therapy required for treating a cocaine addiction, it can be a beneficial part of the total therapy, just as regular exercise provides a wealth of benefits to the average person hoping to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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