Can CrossFit Help Treat Addiction?

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Print
by SAVANNAH MARIE

Can CrossFit Help Treat Addiction?
To put it simply, whether you are addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, or something out of the ordinary, the answer to the above question is “yes.” It’s all a matter of replacing an unhealthy high with a more natural high.

The (Basic) Science

[I]f you can’t sleep knowing you didn’t do enough reps or push-ups that day, then you have to take a step back and recognize that your problem is back — the addiction just has a different focus.
Scientists have done multiple experiments using humans and mice to determine the relationships between drug addictions and exercise. Whether it was drugs or shopping, when participating in their addicting habits, those in recovery were introduced to endorphins that gave them a “high” feeling. As most of us have learned in health class or by watching Legally Blonde, exercise also gives you endorphins, which, in turn, also make you happier on average. By replacing the endorphins released from the addicting substance with endorphins from exercise, addicts have less of a desire to return to their addictions.

Introducing CrossFit to Your Rehab

In a 2012 study, researchers monitored humans, canines, and ferrets to determine the impact of running on neurobiological rewards. While the results matched experiments done by scientists in the past, running is not for everyone. Because the same impact on fighting addiction can be seen from any form of exercise, CrossFit exercises are a popular alternative to repetitive and monotonous exercises, such as basic running. Like running, CrossFit provides recovering addicts with the possibility of performing exercises everywhere, whether they are home, traveling, or in a rehabilitation center like 12 Keys Rehabilitation for example. In fact, many rehabilitation centers across the country are introducing mandatory exercise sessions for recovering addicts.

Another positive aspect of CrossFit is that it allows addicts to strive towards a healthy goal.
Events, games, and invitationals are hosted across the country for athletes who have trained with CrossFit. In fact, the CrossFit Games is almost like an exercise version of the Olympics. What better reward for a recovering addict than winning an award for working hard to beat their addiction? Not only will they be in better health and in better shape, they will have a physical reminder to look at everyday which tells them they did what they needed to do… and are better physically and mentally for it.

Other Benefits of Exercise for Addicts

Other Benefits of Exercise for Addicts
While participating in CrossFit and other exercises helps addicts control their urges to use again, it also helps reverse some of the brain damage they may have caused with their addiction. Rats that had been introduced to meth had lost the use of dopamine and serotonin receptors. Half of the rats were forced to run while the other half were left alone in cages to just sit around. Those that ran had a positive reversal effect on their receptors while the others were left with a brain that resembled the Swiss cheese they were likely to eat for lunch that day.

Exercise in Strides

The numbers have proved that exercise greatly benefits those recovering from addiction. However, it is important not to replace one addiction with another.
The numbers have proved that exercise greatly benefits those recovering from addiction. However, it is important not to replace one addiction with another. Whether you are running, using the kettlebells, or doing the most challenging WODs of CrossFit, it is critical that you do not over do it. By pushing yourself to lose 3 inches of your waist a week or gain 3 pounds of muscle every two days, you are unintentionally setting yourself up to fall into the same addictive patterns that you had with drugs or alcohol. If exercising becomes something you have to do 24/7, if you can’t sleep knowing you didn’t do enough reps or push-ups that day, then you have to take a step back and recognize that your problem is back — the addiction just has a different focus.

As was mentioned above, many rehab facilities are introducing mandatory exercise sessions for their patients, but that session is usually one hour a day and there is a structured routine. Addicts are given a list of what exercise to do and how long they are to do it. If they stick to the healthy schedule laid out by doctors, the risk of becoming an exercise addict while fighting other addictions becomes much lower than it already was.

Savannah Marie is a writer and health and wellness junkie. She is the editor of her blog, Mixios. When she isn’t writing or spending time at her box, she is walking a trail with her yellow lab, or reading a classic novel.

Printable Version

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 

Contribute to this story by commenting below:

Advertise Here

Most Popular of All Time

astewart30 published the post Size Doesn't Matter on Tabata Times
From the time I was 10 years old I have been aware of my size. I have always known how much I weigh...
CrossFit KSX posted on Facebook

Tuesday's Workout Strength: 10 min EMOM 3 Deadlift @ 70% of 3RM Conditioning: 12min EMOM 3 Power cleans 155/115 5 strict pull-ups Rest 2 min: 3 rounds of: 1 min elbow plank 45 sec max supermans 30 sec Russian twist with weight 20/15 * 30 sec rest between rounds*

CrossFit Center City shared a link on Facebook

#DIDYOUKNOW that CFCC offers Custom Fit Meals? These fresh, healthy meals are a great option for weeks when you're especially busy. They offer a huge menu that rotates week to week, and there's no commitment required. Use code CENTERCITY to take 10% off your first order. If you're thinking about participating in the #cfccrecharge or are struggling to find healthy options on-the-go, give CFM a try! #nutrition #paleo #paleoish http://crossfitcc.com/a-new-option-for-healthy-convenient-eats-at-cfcc/

CrossFit Center City shared an image on Facebook

Don't forget we are holding a 2 hour introductory Strongman clinic on Sunday September 28th. Link to sign up is in the comments. Email Record at record@crossfitcc.com if you have any questions about it and remember it is open to both CFCC member and non-members!

CrossFit Prime posted an article
CrossFit Prime posted an article
Kristy Parrish published the post How Julie Foucher Became Julie Foucher on
Editor's Note: "How Julie Foucher Became Julie Foucher" was originally posted to the Beyond the...
WhatWouldJohnMackEat published the post Portuguese Style Littleneck Clams on Nutrition WOD
Littleneck clams are hands down my favorite seafood. I eat them raw, steamed or cooked Portuguese...
CrossFit Prime posted an article
CrossFit Focus shared an image on Facebook

Jeremiah swinging the kettlebell with authority.

CrossFit Focus shared a link on Facebook

You don't get what you want - you get what you work for.

Breaking Point Fitness CrossFit Ridge Ave posted on Facebook

Tuesday 9/9/14 15 mins to work to heavy Snatch deadlift + snatch pull + snatch For time: 10 power cleans 185/125 20 burpee over bar 30 toe 2 bar 200ft farmers carry 55/35 30 toe 2 bar 20 burpee over bar 10 power cleans

CrossFit Center City shared a link on Facebook

Learn all about the newest cycle leading up to the CrossFit Total on Halloween! Deadlift and Strict Press Tuesday tomorrow! http://crossfitcc.com/workout-of-the-day-tuesday-9-9-14/

CrossFit RDU shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Invoke shared an image on Facebook

Body Comp Challenge is in full swing. Be sure to make these next 12 weeks worth it! #cfinvoke #cfiathlete #cfibootycamp #crossfit #bodycomp #fat #relentlesslife #weighin #eatright #nutrition #goals #progress

CrossFit King of Prussia posted an article
CrossFit RDU posted an article
CrossFit Gastonia shared a link on Facebook

Tuesday's WOD http://www.crossfitgastonia.com/w-o-d

CrossFit Delaware Valley shared an image on Facebook

6pm cleanin' and dubbin'!

CrossFit Delaware Valley shared an image on Facebook

N'Sync! (See what I did there? Lol)

Breaking Point Fitness CrossFit Ridge Ave shared a link on Facebook

There is still space left to register for the Carl Paoli seminar at CrossFit Ridge Ave on September 20th from 9am-5pm. The seminar is $295 with discounts offered for CF Level 1 Certified Trainers, Educators, Military/Fire/Police/Rescue and USA Gymnastics members! https://freestyleconnection.pushpress.com/open/event/freestyle-connection-seminar---philadelphia-pa

CrossFit 77 shared an image on Facebook

What an awesome start to our Let's Move class on Saturday September 6! Remember this class is free every Saturday from 10:30-11:30 bring your kids and their friends! We can't wait to see the turn out for this Saturday!

CrossFit Focus shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit 77 posted on Facebook

George just PR'd his back squat by 50lbs! 365# like a champ!

CrossFit Wake Forest posted on Facebook

9/9/2014 WOD: Push Press 3-3-3-3-3 Use the heaviest weight you can for each set. Rest as needed between sets. Then: 4 rounds for time of: Run, 200 m 10 Kettlebell Swings

CrossFit Wilmington posted an article
CrossFit Harrisburg posted on Facebook

Tues Back Squat (3x4 @ 80%, then 1 set for max reps) 15 mins to complete Metcon (Time) 4 Rounds 200m Run 40 double unders 300m Row Rest 1 min 2 for 1 du subs

CrossFit Invoke posted an article
CrossFit Focus posted on Facebook

Tons of new skills discovered for the 6 p.m. group today, especially those double-unders!

CrossFit Main Line posted an article
CrossFit Main Line posted an article
CrossFit Main Line posted an article
CrossFit Main Line posted an article
Raleigh CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Wilmington shared an image on Facebook

Everyone loves HSPUs @cfwilmington #wantmoredomore #strongereveryday

CrossFit LKN shared an image on Facebook

Big 9 am class this morning!

CrossFit Love shared a link on Facebook

9.9.14 http://bit.ly/1tFrlIx

CrossFit Love shared an image on Facebook

The Olympic Weightlifting seminar with Diane Fu is almost here! Have you registered?! Learn more about the Olympic lifts and what mistakes you may be making that are holding your PRs back! Check out the details and register TODAY! http://bit.ly/NtByob

CrossFit Wilmington shared an image on Facebook

Great job to Alison and all of our new members this summer!

judyjudyjudy published the post Why The Box Is Not Like Any Old Gym- Facing Fear and Finding Beauty At Crossfit on
"He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear. " ~Ralph Waldo...
Raleigh CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Main Line shared an image on Facebook

Beginning this week, YOGA will be offered at 10:30am on Tuesdays at CFML and Thursdays at CFR5. Come join us!

CrossFit Durham posted on Facebook

Welcome back to CFD athlete, and recent new MOM, Rachel Mason!

CrossFit RDU shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit RDU shared an image on Facebook

We will have WODbody Sports Massage in house here at CrossFit RDU this coming Wednesday. Appointment slots will be available from 3pm-8pm in 30min sessions or more. There will be a sign up sheet on the whiteboard. Check them out and we may make it a permanent fixture! $35 - 30 minutes $45 - 40 minutes $55 - 50 minutes $65 - 60 minutes

CrossFit RDU posted an article
CrossFit Exchange shared an image on Facebook

Achieving Excellence through competition helps us break through our own boundaries. From the coaches desk we are all proud of the athletes that came out, and more importantly for all of your help and support.

CrossFit Delaware Valley shared an image on Facebook

Ladies - check this out!

CrossFit Durham shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit 910 shared an image on Facebook

liftlaugheatrepeat published the post Secret Ingredient Paleo Meatloaf on
So my husband absolutely loves meatloaf, which is great because it's a relatively simple meal...
CrossFit Main Line shared a link on Facebook

Hey Main Liners and R5ers! Good news...beginning this Thursday, 9.11 at 6:30pm we are bringing in a Chiropractor a couple days a week for your aches, pains and general fitness recovery needs to CFML. The wonderful, Dr. Katzen will be scheduling free consultations and following up with necessary treatments. We could all use a little adjustment. Call today to schedule your appointment at CFML- 610-664-8330 http://www.drkatzen.com/

CrossFit Coastal shared an image on Facebook

Congratulations to Brandon M for passing his CrossFit Level 1 Certification and also Head Coaches Phil & Kelly for completing / passing their CrossFit Kettlebell Certification this weekend! Continuing education is very important to us here at CrossFit Coastal. Your instructors are always in a constant state of learning new ways to serve you better. Proud of you!

CrossFit Harrisburg shared an image on Facebook

No heel strike.

CrossFit 919 posted on Facebook

Endurance WOD tonight at 6:30 PM. We'll be inside on the rowers.

CrossFit Durham posted on Facebook

Wishing Greg Wehn a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

CrossFit Durham posted an article
CrossFit Durham shared an image on Facebook

Check out CFD athlete, Sarah Tallent, in our latest Athlete Spotlight! "My body has much more muscle than before. I like that part. I also really like feeling strong. I never feel more strong than when my hands are around a barbell preparing for a 1 rep max of something." www.crossfitdurham.com/sarah-tallent

CrossFit LKN posted on Facebook

This Wednesday, September 10th from 6:30-8:00pm Kyle will be holding a Nutrition Seminar. It is free and open to anyone who would like to attend (members or non-members). If you haven't attended one of Kyle's nutrition seminars definitely get in for this one!

CrossFit 77 shared a link on Facebook

11 Reasons Dehydration Is Making You Sick & Fat http://themindunleashed.org/2014/09/11-reasons-dehydration-making-sick-fat.html

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV