More CPDD Addiction research: Addiction, exercise, recovery!

Okay, this is probably the last addiction research update I will give focusing on the Reno conference. The rest of the stuff I learned will be incorporated into future posts.

I’ve written before about the relationship between exercise and recovery (see here) and I will surely write more since for me, it was a big part of the equation.

two separate studies at CPDD reaffirmed my belief that exercise can be a very useful tool in addiction recovery.

The first study, conducted in humans, examined the effect of incorporating an extensive exercise routine into a residential, as well as intensive outpatient, addiction treatment program. Their findings showed improved outcomes for participants in the short, as well as long run. These included length of sobriety, subjective assessment of well being, and more. In talking to the researcher, she seemed to believe that at least part of the effect was due to the relief of cravings achieved by allowing patients to focus on something that took effort, rather than simply sitting around.

The second, and to my mind even more interesting, study examined the effect of exercise on cocaine self-administration in rats. Researchers assigned half of their rats to a cage that had a running wheel while the others were assigned to a regular cage. the rats with the running wheel used the device to run an average of 12 kilometers a day! After a week of simply resting in their cages, when transferred to another cage for 2 hours a day, the rats who had the wheel in their cage took less than half as much cocaine as the rats who didn’t have a wheel. the “wheel-rats” were also found to run less after they began the cocaine portion of the experiment, but their cocaine-taking never got near that of the non-exercising rats. It seems that having the exercise did something to reduce the reinforcing power of cocaine.

I have a feeling that future research will show that these finding hold true for other drugs (like crystal meth, heroin, marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol) and possibly even for behavioral addictions like food addiction, gambling, and sex addiction.

All in all, research seems to be supporting the notion that exercise can play a significant role in recovery from addiction. Whether it be for boredom relief or an actual internal change in the motivating power of drugs, it looks to me as if Addiction + Exercise = Recovery !

Links of the week

Guess what? It’s that time again. Here are some posts by other writers that offer good help for addicts. I know I’ve been slacking on these, but I’ve simply had too many of my own cents to add. It happens often.

Trudging the gentle path: Being an atheist in recovery

Spiritual River: A new recovery eBook

Stop eating disorders: How to stop a binge

About.com: Signs of a relpase (I don’t necessarily agree with all of these, but it’s a good article)

Addiction Recovery Basics: Sign of addiction

That’s it for now, enjoy!

And don’t forget to click the title of the post for related articles on allaboutaddiction.com that offer addiction help!

Emotional eating: A possible connection for food addicts

More cake please!!! The supposedly wondeful face of sugar addiction...

Co authored by: Jamie Felzer

Do you ever stuff yourself beyond capacity because you are depressed, feeling inadequate or self conscious?

Are you a perfectionist with difficulty expressing and realizing your feelings, instead turning to food to take out your frustrations?

If so, you may be linking strong emotions and eating- taking your inability to effectively portray feelings and transforming them into feasts of food. This is a problem often experienced by food addicts.

Typically, when under stress or any other strong negative emotion, people tend to lose their appetite.  Instead, those who eat emotionally have an increased appetite and an inability to gauge their eating as it relates to their physical state. Emotional eating does not necessarily involve binge eating, but instead, describes eating associated with particular feelings.

Researchers recently found that high amounts of emotional eating occurred when participants experienced anger, anxiety or depression. Emotional eating was a big factor for those with restrictive types of eating disorders (aka anorexia not bulimia or binging).  However emotional eating occurred often with those who desperately wanted to become thin but still had a tendency to eat according to their emotions.

This leads to eating without actually being hungry but to fill other voids.  Emotional eating involves many ups and downs of eating and those who engage in eating in this manner need help determining what behaviors are healthy and how to work on mind over matter as the saying goes.

Although the majority of cases involved people eating in response to negative emotions some people reported eating comfort foods in response to positive feelings as well.  As stated in Addiction Inbox “In an unconscious effort to raise brain levels of serotonin and dopamine, drug users often discover that doughnuts, cakes, ice cream, soft drinks, and other sugar foods can lessen withdrawal symptoms” which is why many people chose to eat in hopes of combating these strong emotions.

The same pattern of eating can happen for non-users as well, but being aware is the first step to recovery.

Citation:

Courbasson, Rizea, and Weiskopf , (2008). Emotional Eating among Individuals with Concurrent Eating and Substance Use Disorders. Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.