Drug abuse in America has reached epidemic proportions, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Each day, more than 100 Americans inadvertently end their lives by overdosing on opioids. These drugs, which include heroine, fentanyl and certain prescription pain relievers, are often prescribed by well-intentioned physicians for patients with chronic pain conditions. However, ease of access has significantly contributed to this public health crisis.
There is no one path toward recovery that is right for each afflicted individual. But, a mounting body of evidence suggests that exercise may replace drug and alcohol use as a healthy alternative reward for the brain.
The Chicago Tribune points out that the human brain gives the body a chemical reward during and after exercise. It is the same chemical that triggers a sense of pleasure when using. The theory is that many people in recovery may be able to receive the same level of satisfaction by swapping an unhealthy addiction for one that has pronounced health benefits.
In addition to being a healthy reward trigger, exercise may mitigate some of the negative effects of long-term drug or alcohol use. When the body is sufficiently worked, it can effectively shut down at night, allowing people to rest and recuperate. Exercise can also stave off depression, anxiety and stress.
Exercise can help an individual address stressors and triggers in a healthy and productive way. For instance, a person who uses after an argument with his or her spouse or partner may get the same internal resolution/relief from a 30-minute jog. As an added benefit, their mental clarity remains intact, and they are able to handle issues and cravings from a position of strength.
Cravings, which tend to be the weak point in many recovery efforts, should be ridden out in a safe place, and the gym may certainly qualify as such. Exercise can help a person in recovery abstain from using which can help break the cycle of addiction. Mental health benefits are not the only positive way that exercise affects an individual with a substance use disorder. A focus on physical health can increase a person’s overall wellness and make them feel good about themselves. Exercising builds confidence, and meeting exercise goals offers the individual an opportunity to reach positive milestones. This will encourage more positive actions, such as eating a healthy diet and socializing with peers sans substances. Exercise can also boost immunity and it pumps oxygen to the brain, which may help heal damaged nerve connections caused by drug or alcohol overuse.
Types of exercise
The four most important types of exercise, according to Harvard University, are aerobic, balance, stretching and strengthening. Some of the most popular forms of exercise include running, jogging, weightlifting, Pilates, and yoga. Less regimented physical fitness routines include hiking, biking and swimming. If you’re a senior, exercises like stretching, walking, and using resistance bands can work well. Each individual must determine what types of exercise is right for their personal needs.
Substance abuse disorders don’t discriminate. They are cruel and unkind and quickly wear away a person’s identity. Drugs and alcohol ruin relationships and separate families each day. Exercise is an excellent alternative for many in recovery and one that will not only enhance their mental and physical health, but may strengthen their bonds with loved ones. Many exercise programs are family-friendly and activities, such as hiking, offer an opportunity to reconnect with both nature – which has proven mental health benefits – and family and friends that may have been pushed aside while using.
If you or someone you love is experiencing a substance abuse or mental health crisis, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP for an immediate referral to a local treatment center or support group.
As part of the 2021 legislative session, H.B. No. 5429 has been introduced by the Transportation Committee and there is a public hearing this Wednesday, January 27. You can help us keep this bill moving forward.
Our call to action:
Click here for a helpful guide from our friends at Safe Streets Coalition of New Haven detailing how to submit testimony for the hearing as well as how to virtually join on Wednesday. Please note, if you want to testify, you must register by 5pm tomorrow, January 26.
What is H.B. No. 5429?
This is an act concerning:
Click here for more information about this bill.
Please share with your networks and thank you for taking action!
Despite the cancellation of the 2020 National Bike Summit this week, Bike Walk Connecticut still met with staff on Capitol Hill via conference call on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 to ask for support on various bike/ped legislative proposals. We organized these meetings as part of the National Bike Summit’s Lobby Day. Click here to download fact sheets provided by the League of American Bicyclists related to each of the 'asks' below.
Our requests to Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal included these three ‘asks’:
We proposed the following requests to Connecticut Representatives Joe Courtney, John Larson, Jim Himes, and Rosa DeLauro (we hope to meet with Rep. Hayes soon):
All Connecticut Legislator offices indicated interest in our requests, and we now await their response. We appreciated the time that office staff generously provided us to discuss these bike/ped proposals. Connecticut’s Senate and House offices also received fact sheets regarding these issues.
A special thank you from Bike Walk Connecticut to Bruce Donald from East Coast Greenway and Laura Baum for participating in these discussions.
A public hearing has been scheduled for March 2, 2020 on Raised Bill No.5324, which covers multiple bicycle and pedestrian topics (see details below).
Transportation Committee Public Hearing
Monday, March 2, 2020 - 11:00 AM
CT Legislative Office Building (LOB), Room 1E
210 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT
Raised Bill No.5324 "An act concerning pedestrian safety at crosswalks, speed limits in municipalities, fines and charges for certain violations, and the greenways commemorative account."
To (1) require motorists to grant the right-of-way to pedestrians who affirmatively indicate their intention to cross the road in a crosswalk;
(2) allow local traffic authorities to establish lower speed limits on streets under their jurisdiction by holding a public hearing regarding such speed limits and providing notification of such speed limits to the Office of the State Traffic Administration;
(3) increase the fine for operating a motor vehicle while using a hand-held mobile telephone or electronic device;
(4) increase the additional fee provided to municipalities for certain traffic violations;
(5) establish a fine for opening the door of a motor vehicle in a way that impedes the travel of a pedestrian or a person riding a bicycle; and (6) establish the greenways commemorative account.
On Friday February 14, 2020, Bike Walk Connecticut partnered with the town of Wethersfield, and South Windsor Walk & Wheel Ways to conduct a 'Teach The PE Teachers' bicycle education workshop at the Webb Elementary School in Wethersfield. Physical Education teachers from elementary schools throughout Wethersfield participated. This workshop provides the resources, tools and instruction that educators need to implement a comprehensive bicycle safety and skills program for 4th grade elementary school students.
Bike Walk Connecticut
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