The following is a guest post by Brenda Lawrence, a physical therapist whose specialties include rehabilitation and weight loss. She created Physical TherapyAide.org in 2010, as a resource website for students interested in a career as a physical therapy aide.
Drugs and alcohol can have a destructive effect on an individual’s mind and body. While rehabilitation programs can help addicts change their habits and become free of the addiction, restorative physical therapy can help them repair their bodies as well.
1. Muscle Strengthening – One of the main physical effects of drug or alcohol addiction is muscle deconditioning. This is when muscles weaken and become smaller due to inactivity. A person with deconditioned muscles will likely experience some soreness when starting to exercise again, but over time exercise will help their muscles gain mass and become stronger.
2. Positive Stimulation – Exercise produces feel-good chemicals called endorphins that stimulate the body in a positive way. As a result, physical activity has been shown to help patients dealing with depression, and it can also help recovering addicts for the same reason. Exercise gives the body a good feeling that serves as a healthy alternative to drugs and alcohol. Some exercises, such as yoga, can also help patients learn how to calm their minds and relax their bodies, which creates positive feelings as well.
3. Disease Prevention – Drug and alcohol addiction can lead to serious symptoms such as fibromyalgia and arthritis that can become chronic if not treated. Physical therapy can help strengthen a patient’s body and reverse some of the debilitating effects these symptoms would otherwise have. Gaining physical fitness can also help recovering addicts from developing other diseases later in life.
4. Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle – Restorative physical therapy helps recovering addicts learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle that includes mindful habits and physical fitness. Physical activity works hand-in-hand with mental rehabilitation, since it can be a coping method for recovering addicts who need assistance in overcoming mental obstacles. Therapy and exercise can replace old habits with new healthy ones that will be beneficial for life.