Substance abuse is the general term used to include the misuse of different substances such as tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs. Millions of people worldwide are affected, resulting in medical, personal, social and occupational problems. Although there are a wide variety of medicinal treatments available, they are not helpful for many people, which leaves a gap in treatment options. This void is effectively filled by alternative therapies, one of which is aerobic exercise training.1, 2
Exercise has been helpful as an adjuvant to the treatment of substance abuse with medications. It helps the individual to focus more upon healthier aspects of life and is useful in breaking the habit of smoking among habitual smokers. A mere 30 minutes of aerobic exercise training for three times a week has helped numerous addicted individuals to quit smoking. In general, aerobic exercise training has a wide variety of advantages for the different organ systems, such as improving their blood flow and increasing their efficiency. Regular exercise causes improved release of dopamine, a brain chemical that has been associated with mood improvements and relief from depression. Exercising helps people to form positive attitudes and to realize that they can improve performance in different aspects of life by quitting bad habits.2, 3
A similar effect has been observed in individuals addicted to alcohol and drugs who are willing to quit. Medications along with aerobic exercises have been advised as a helpful method in such individuals. Exercise and recreational activities are quite useful in preventing the formation of unhealthy habits such as substance abuse. This is especially true in the case of teenagers and young adults. Different studies and research have substantiated this fact and exercise is being promoted as one of the modes in numerous training, health projects and programs followed by the governments of many countries. A regular work out schedule at different intensities has effectively prevented many youths from falling prey to harmful habits such as substance abuse.3,4
- Shephard RJ. Exercise and Relaxation in Health Promotion. Sports Med. 1997; 23(4): 211–227.
- Scott P, Marlow RRT et al. Smoking Cessation. Respir Care. 2003; 48(12): 1238–1254.
- Jain A. Treating Nnicotine Addiction. BMJ. 2003; 327; 1394–1395.
- Saitz R. Treatment of Alcohol and Other Drug Dependence. Liver Transpl. 2007; 13: S59–S64.
- Hogan MJ. Diagnosis and Treatment of Teen Drug Use. Med Clin North Am. 2000; 84(4): 927–966, vii.