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3 Ways Trauma-Informed Curricula Help With Addiction Recovery

Exercise in recovery from mental illness, addiction or trauma is critical if a person is to have any hope of returning to a normal, healthy life. Personal recovery begins during clinical recovery (treatment), but continues long afterward, and incorporating exercise and physical activity into this process can help in many ways.

The Challenges of Recovery

For many people, the personal recovery process can last for years, decades or even a lifetime. The major focus of personal recovery is the development of a positive identity and the ability to view the illness as a part of the person, but not as the whole person. Individuals in treatment and recovery often view themselves in terms of their diagnosis, but that cycle must be broken. A young woman may see and label herself as an anorexic, rather than someone who has anorexia. At the same time, the individual must develop the ability to manage her mental illness. Treatment teams can provide all the education and teach the skills necessary, but it is ultimately up to the individual to do this work. Scientific research has identified a variety of tools that assist in the recovery process, but exercise is shown to be one of the most effective tools for helping during this challenging time of transition.

How Exercise Benefits a Recovering Individual

During the intervention and treatment process, especially if treatment protocols are residential or in-patient, the client is surrounded by clinicians, staff and other patients. Once the formal treatment phase ends, it becomes more difficult to retain focus, increasing the risk of relapse. Physical activity causes the brain to release chemicals that improve cognitive processes, sharpening focus and helping to improve decision-making abilities. The brain also releases dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine during physical activity. These powerful chemicals can reduce compulsions and improve the client’s outlook significantly. The mood boost provided by these brain chemicals can help patients sleep and provide a boost to the immune system. For many recovering individuals, exercise brings about the only joy they have been able to feel weeks, months or longer.

Using Exercise as Part of a Comprehensive Recovery Program

The use of exercise in recovery must be undertaken clínica de recuperação rio de janeiro with moderation and care, however. Too much exercise can be counterproductive if it leads to injury or burnout. If addiction was involved in the original illness, care must be taken lest the client substitute an addiction to exercise for the original addiction. In many effective treatment programs, exercise is introduced during the clinical recovery phase. This might include any activity from horseback riding to badminton. Team sports are effective, as they can help the client build trust and coalition with others, something that many people in recovery can be unable or unwilling to do.

Restoring the connection between mind and body is of great importance on the road to recovery from trauma, mental illness and addiction. If you have a friend or loved one in a treatment or recovery program, encouraging them to join in physical activities may be one of the most valuable gifts you can give them. If you are considering a treatment program, look for one that understands the value of exercise and physical activity as a part of the recovery process.