Replacing Opiate Abuse with a Healthy Activity

Replacing Opiate Abuse with a Healthy Activity

Managed physical activity can be a realistic therapy to promote functional recovery

When you struggle with an opiate addiction, it is important to pursue healthy activities instead of being a participant in drug abuse. When you spend your time with a focused hobby or passion, this helps your recovery on multiple levels. First, it helps the brain heal, the body rebuild and your memory improve. A healthy activity offers immediate options for craving management, relapse prevention and builds life-long habits that promote health and continued opiate abstinence.

Brain Health and Healthy Activity


The National Institute of Health states that physical activity such as Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain.[1] On the most basic levels, drugs are chemicals that affect the brain. The drugs tap into your body’s communication system and interfere with the way neurons normally send, receive, and process information.[2] Replacing opiate use with healthy activity both ends the damage being done by active opiate use and repairs past damage done.

Healthy Activity, Learning and Memory

Your memory plays an important role in addiction development and continuance. Opiate use becomes a psychological-ingrained behavior as addiction involves many of the same brain pathways that govern learning and memory. Addiction alters the strength of connections at the synapses (junctions) of nerve cells.[3] As addiction changes an individual’s memory and learning development, the grip of the cravings for drug use increases. When recovery takes place, the memory and learning channels are altered and healthy functional use is possible again through therapy and treatment. There is no such thing as a “quick fix” in recovery; the components of substance abuse recovery—primarily talk therapy—should be aided by activity such as physical exercise.

This changes in brain and memory function not only modifies channels once dedicated to drug use, it also helps prevent relapse. Drug-induced changes within the brain establish associations between the drug experience and the circumstances in which it occurred. These implicit memories can be retrieved when addicts are exposed to any reminder of those circumstances — moods, situations, people, places, or the substance itself. These specific triggers that contribute to cravings and relapse can be prevented through healthy activity. Now you can work out at the gym to reduce stress, instead of turning to drugs or another form of substance abuse. This is an important coping skill and relapse prevention strategy both to help you stay sober and also to live a healthy life.

Finding a Healthy Life after Opiate Abuse

Have questions about how you can pursue a healthy lifestyle and leave opiate abuse behind? Please call our toll-free helpline. One of our professional counselors is waiting to talk to you 24 hours a day. Take the first steps towards a positive and drug-free life.

[1] Health Benefits of Physical Activity: The Evidence. Warburton, Darren.

[2] Drugs and The Brain.

[3] The Addicted Brain.