I s Exercise Effective In The Treatment Of Opioid Addiction?

M.B. is a 39-year-old marketing professional who is married with two children and has been free of opioid addiction for the past four years.

12/27/20224 min read

M.B. is a 39-year-old marketing professional who is married with two children and has been free of opioid addiction for the past four years. He discusses his "secret to success" when questioned. "I hit rock bottom four years ago, feeling despondent and humiliated of how my oxycodone addiction had harmed my relationships with my family and friends." However, after enrolling in a Suboxone program, I began going to the gym every day after work." "Lifting weights helped me get my energies and frustrations out," he explains. I'd be so much more relaxed and tranquil when I got home. It offered a fresh outlet for me to stay on track with my recuperation." M.B. isn't the only one who feels this way. J.R., a 33-year-old waitress, also discusses how she used fitness to overcome her opiate addiction. "I would put on my headphones and go for a run before starting my work day to lose myself in my thoughts." When I didn't feel like jogging, I'd go for a walk with my dog. It was my'me time,' and it helped me get ready for work and deal with the daily stressors of life in a far healthier way than using narcotic tablets."

Is it true that exercise can help you manage your opioid addiction?

Yes! Exercise, it turns out, is its own medicine, and when combined with evidence-based pharmaceutical treatments like buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), methadone (Learn more about transitioning from methadone to Suboxone. ), and naltrexone, it can help patients succeed in their recovery. Exercise has a similar effect to opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl, and vicodin. Endorphins are natural substances released by the body when you exercise. Endorphins attach to the same receptors in the brain as opioids, resulting in euphoria and a rise in mood. "If you have heard of the concept of 'runner's high,' this is what exercise can do for the brain— it boosts your mood, helps you relax, helps you concentrate and sleep better, and even helps improve anxiety and depression," says Liza Hoffman, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Director of Behavioral Health at Suboxone clinic, a telehealth company that provides buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) to patients with opioid dependence. All of our patients at Suboxone clinic are encouraged to exercise regularly in order to improve their mental and physical health."

Exercise Has Many Health Benefits

Exercise not only benefits the brain and mental health, but it also benefits patients' physical health in a variety of ways.

  • Loss of weight

  • Diabetes is prevented and improved using this supplement.

  • Lowers cholesterol levels

  • Blood pressure is reduced.

  • Reduces the risk of some cancers such as breast, colon, and prostate.

  • Reduces the chance of osteoporosis (weak bones)

  • Reduces the risk of falling and improves mobility

  • It helps with chronic pain.

  • Immune function (the body's ability to fight illness) is improved.

  • It aids in the relief of constipation.

  • Reduces mortality

So, how much physical activity is advised?

Any of the following is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association:

Formal Training

1- 20-60 minutes of aerobic activity 5 days each week

Consider the following:

  • running

  • brisk strolling

  • biking

  • bouncing rope

  • swimming

  • dancing

  • elliptical

For it to count, you must notice an increase in your respiration and heart rate. You can undertake continuous exercise or even interval training (high-intensity bursts followed by rest periods, which can help you burn calories more efficiently, enhance your aerobic capacity, and conquer boredom!)

2- Strengthening exercises major muscular groups 2-3 times each week
  • lifting weights

  • bands of stress

3- at least once a week, stretch and tone:
  • tai chi is a type of Chinese martial art.

  • yoga

Dr. Wayne Altman, a Family Medicine physician in Woburn, MA, has put together a fantastic handout on starting started with some sample routines:

It is not necessary for exercise to be formal, such as "going to the gym" or "going for a run."

There are a variety of less formal ways to incorporate "getting your steps in" into your daily routine.

The goal should be to walk 10,000 steps per day (which is the equivalent to about 5 miles of walking a day).

Informal Training
  • Taking your dog for a walk

  • While on the phone, take a walk.

  • Work in the yard

  • Golf without the use of a cart

  • Park a little further away and go into a store or office.

  • Instead of taking the elevator, take the steps.

  • 3 brief (10 minute) walks per day are recommended.

  • Take a walk or catch up with a coworker during your lunch break.

  • Hold a "walking meeting" – individuals are more productive when they stand or walk than than sitting in meetings!

Unfortunately, in the United States, one-third of the population is fully sedentary, one-third does not receive enough exercise, and only one-third gets enough. People who want to improve their regular exercise should choose activities they enjoy, start slowly, and switch up their routines periodically to keep things fresh. "Patients often feel obligated to do things they don't enjoy," says Dr. Brian Clear, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Suboxone clinic. For various people, exercise can mean different things, such as a strenuous trek or meeting a friend for a lunchtime walk around the block. Patients are more likely to like and persist with exercise if they make it a social activity or locate an exercise buddy."

"Most importantly, strive to accomplish something EVERY day— consistency essential," he adds. It's all about getting more people to move."

Tracking your steps (on a phone or other device) can also help you keep track of your progress and perhaps "push" you to reach your goal!

The bottom line is that

The gold-standard, evidence-based treatments for opioid dependency are buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), methadone, and naltrexone, which minimize cravings and withdrawal and reduce death rates by more than two-thirds. These drugs, when combined with regular, everyday exercise, can help you achieve recovery success while also enhancing your mental and physical health.