Drug Abuse on the One Hand and Exercise

What the scientists involved in the experiment wanted was to try to find a place where two polar opposites in human behavior – a fondness for exercise and fitness routines and a fondness for drug abuse – met. It was an experiment done in the Middle East that actually went some way to proving that a connection did exist. The experiment of course was done with rats on treadmills. What it ended up proving was that if you put rats on a terribly demanding treadmill routine every day and also got them addicted to drugs, that they would even if they were addicted, cease to show much interest in drugs. Even if the drugs were available on demand (they placed levers in their cages that the rats could tap for a morphine shot. The levers went unused)

The thing is, this isn’t really supposed to be a surprise. Scientists have been working on the general theme for a couple decades now. Right here in the US, a scientist at Tufts University has already shown that if you put a rat on a running wheel in his cage, the more exercise he got, the less drugs like meth, morphine or nicotine have any effect on him. They don’t go near alcohol even if it’s right there in their cages. What this goes to say of course is that it could be a great way to get Lindsay Lohan to successfully come out of rehab to put her on a treadmill for punishing exercise and fitness routines (she seems thin enough as it is though).

It’s actually a reasonably widely recommended suggestion for people who go through severe nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Get on an exercise and fitness routine, a really demanding one, and the symptoms should recede. It does actually work with every actual smoker who tries to quit. It doesn’t always to be overly demanding routine for relief from withdrawal effects. If you are happy with a modest amount of relief, a modest amount of exercise would be a lot of good too. There are all kinds of other benefits from exercise that come to a drug-damaged brain too. Exercise can actually stimulate your brain into growing new neurons and implementing circuits in the cortex.

So why exactly is exercise useful as a way to help with a rehab program? Why are you suddenly less dependent on any chemical of your choice if you exercise? The theory is that exercise releases chemicals in our brains that we grow dependent on. Much as we grow dependent on drugs, we grow dependent on exercise – for the chemicals released. In simpler terms, it could just work as a kind of substitute drug. It helps explain how some people who are used to a regular exercise and fitness routine are often irritable or depressed or just lethargic if they skip it. It’s a withdrawal symptom. Exercise actually does give us what is known as a natural high. This isn’t just an expression. It’s literally true.

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