Tag Archive: avoiding relapse

  1. Endorphins and the Secret of Runner’s High

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    enorphins and the runner's highSedentary people often have a hard time understanding how intense physical activity can make them feel good. They see runners and other physically active people wincing, gasping for air, and walking slowly and painfully after an exercise session. They cannot answer the question, however, of why those physically active people return time and again to activities that look painful and uncomfortable to the sedentary observer. The answer is that intense physical activity can bring about a euphoric sensation known as “the runner’s high”.

    What are Endorphins?

    For many years, researchers have connected the runner’s high to increased endorphin levels that they saw in the bloodstreams of individuals who participated in high-intensity activities. Endorphins are natural painkillers that are released when a body experiences stress or pain. They are also released to reinforce enjoyable events, such as a good meal or sexual activity. Endorphins share certain chemical structures with morphine, and in some ways they create a similar effect. Yet recent research has revealed that endorphins in themselves are not entirely responsible for the runner’s high.

    Endorphin molecules are large and complex, and as such they do not pass easily between the blood-brain barrier. Individuals who do exercise have been found to have increased levels of another neurotransmitter, anandamide, in their brains, and that anandamide seems to lead to higher endorphin levels in their bloodstreams. Anandamide is a form of a cannabinoid that has a similar structure to the effective compound in marijuana. This does not suggest that exercising creates the same kind of high that can result from smoking a marijuana cigarette, but a body’s natural chemical reaction to exercise and the pleasurable sensations realized as a result of that exercise is such that the same pleasure centers and receptors are involved.

    The Secret of the Runner’s High

    The secret behind a runner’s high may very well involve a number of different factors. In addition to causing the release of endorphins, anandamides, and other feel-good neurotransmitters, exercising floods a person’s body with energy-inducing norepinephrine. Regular exercise helps a person to lose weight and to look and feel better, leading to improved energy levels and higher self-esteem. Individuals who exercise regularly can (at least in the eyes of sedentary individuals) have insufferable levels of energy and is coupled with bragging about various athletic feats. A distance runner can gasp through a race and walk gingerly for several hours or days after a race, but even before the pain subsides he is planning his next run to chase after the runner’s high. Science might not fully understand it, but regular runners vouch for the reality of what they experience.

    People who are dealing with depression or anxiety, or who are trying to break a drug addiction or alcoholism habit, might find that running or other vigorous exercise are the perfect tool to aid in their struggles. Because vigorous physical exercise can put a sudden strain on a sedentary person’s heart, he or she should not jump into a running program or other exercise regime without first consulting with a physician. Weeks or months can elapse before the first inkling of a runner’s high makes its appearance, but once it does appear, a person can get hooked on an active and healthy lifestyle.  

     

    For suggestions and more information on starting a running or exercise program,, please call Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052. Our staff can direct you to pursue the best path to start your own quest for the runner’s high.

  2. How a 5-Minute Meditation Can Change Your Life

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    How a 5-Minute Meditation Can Change Your LifeThe disease that takes over the lives of drug addicts and alcoholics can make them cynical and unreceptive to new ideas. Recovering addicts who can get past that cynicism and who can open their minds to those ideas will find that five minutes of daily meditation will substantially increase their chances of achieving long-lasting and true sobriety.

    The Benefits of Meditation in Recovery

    You will be better able to understand the benefits of meditation if you first understand exactly what meditation is. Meditation involves quieting your mind and focusing on a single thought or idea, rather than letting yourself be distracted by the jumble of thoughts and stimuli that confront you from the moment you wake up every morning. Meditation practitioners typically find a quiet place where they can meditate by themselves, although group meditation in increasing in popularity. Meditation is an element of many organized religions, but meditation by itself need not be a religious practice.

    Meditation has no set format or time limits. Individuals typically begin their meditation practices with just a minute or two of daily meditation. For many people, one or two minutes leads to five minutes or more of daily meditation practice. The single thought that an individual might focus upon can be the same thought every day, or it can change from day to day. Over time, an individual might find that he has no specific thought when he commences meditation, and his practice simply involves freeing his mind of all thoughts.

    Using Meditation as a Recovery Tool

    In addiction recovery, meditation is one of many tools that recovery counselors will recommend to aid an individual’s recovery. It is not the only tool nor is it a substitute for counseling and other tools and therapies that counselors will use. When it is introduced early in an addict’s or alcoholic’s recovery, it can become an integral part of a lifelong path to true sobriety. Alcoholics and addicts report that they continue to return to meditation long after they have gotten past their addictions because the practice helps them to handle so many other stresses in their daily routines.

    Clinical research supports the benefits of meditation. In one study, practitioners who meditated for thirty minutes daily over an eight-week period showed a noticeable increase in their learning abilities and memory retention, as well as improved self-awareness and introspection. Five minutes of daily meditation might not give these same noticeable effects, but it will point a recovering addict or alcoholic in the right direction to begin to achieve these effects. From this perspective, five minutes of daily meditation will definitely change the life of an addict or alcoholic.

    Meditation may also be particularly well-suited for addiction recovery because it is easy to learn and it can be done anywhere. Recovering addicts face countless challenges, and they generally do not need to be challenged with an additional burden of complex recovery techniques and methods. It takes no special skill to do something as simple as sitting quietly for five minutes every day. Even the most hardened of cynics can be convinced to try this technique, and the results that they see will often break down the walls of their cynicism.

     

    For more suggestions and recommendation on using daily meditation to aid in your addiction recovery, please call Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052. Our counselors can answer your questions and give you additional guidance on the benefits of meditating for five minutes every day.

     

The people at Sustain Recovery are truly passionate about their work. They put all their love, energy and spiritual strength in to it. They continue to support me today as I continue my ongoing journey in my personal recovery. I now have over a year of sobriety, my own apartment, a job, true friends and a support network that is always available to me. Although all that stuff is great, what matters most today is that I love myself and have the ability to love others. Thank you to all who had a hand and heart in Sustain Recovery

Jenn
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