Drug addiction is at an all-time high…with no end in sight.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21.5 million American adults battled with drug abuse, many starting at 12 years old. And a recent study by the Addiction Center shows that 100 people die every day from drugs. This rate has tripled in the past 20 years!

Unfortunately, curing addiction has been a familiar lifelong battle for many people and it’s been getting worse. Simon Sinek, organizational consultant, and motivational speaker, nearly broke the internet when asked why millennial’s are having a hard time in today’s society:

“You have an entire generation that’s growing up with lower self-esteem then previous generations…We’re seeing an increase in suicide rates. We’re seeing an increase in accidental deaths due to drug overdoses. We’re seeing more and more kids dropping out of school or taking leave of absence due to depression – unheard of! This is really bad!”

With drug use becoming normalized, it’s no question that we need to address this issue NOW! But in order for us to get a better understanding, let’s talk about a tricky little bastard called Dopamine.

What’s Dopamine?

Dopamine is a natural “reward-seeking” neurotransmitter located in the brain. It helps regulate attention, emotional response, and contributes to feeling pleasure or satisfaction. We feel this when we get a text from a friend or when we’ve helped a loved one in need. That’s because dopamine comes in effect and motivates us to seek some type of reward (i.e. feeling good). Dopamine also comes in full effect when we drink, smoke, or partake in social media.

This means it’s HIGHLY addictive and drug users rely on substance abuse to seek the feel-good reward of dopamine.

In today’s society, alcohol and cigarettes are sold everywhere and prescription drugs are handed out like candy. Addiction has become common and almost acceptable. So how do we battle this?

How do recovering addicts stay sober when they’re surrounded by temptation?

A lot of factors take part in recovery, like therapy and rehabilitation. However, there’s another component that’s been making great strides and is dubbed a critical element for a lifetime of sobriety:

That my friend is PHYSICAL FITNESS!

Rehab and Recovery Programs across the U.S. have now implemented exercise as a must for recovering addicts. A study by the Alta Mira Recovery Program shows that when we participate in fitness, the body releases dopamine the same way it does when we partake in substance abuse. So if you’re having a bad day, just jog around your neighborhood, and poof – you’ll feel great!

Unfortunately, most people don’t know about this fact. Why is that you ask? Just take a look at your TV screen.

TV ad spending by pharmaceutical companies has more than doubled in the past four years. In a 2016 study, 771,368 drug ads were shown on television. Compared to 2012, that’s an increase of 65%! It’s no wonder why millennials are prone to addiction when they’re surrounded by these messages. Even standardized schools have dropped Phys Ed classes due to low budgets.

It almost seems like the odds are stacked against us. But we’re in luck!

Athletes are now rising to the occasion to provide more outreach!

These pioneers understand that a supportive community is crucial and can make all the difference. Krissy Mae Cagney, an athlete and gym owner, created Reps For Recovery, a non-profit organization that provides free gym memberships to people going through treatment. They raised over $100,000 in donations with community outreach.

“I think fitness that involves a community helps everybody because environment trumps all,” says Dani Tocci, a certified strength coach, and sports psychologist.

Tocci, who also battled with prescription given medication, has been utilizing holistic methods for the past 2 years. She now trains athletes who’ve been prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication, using both physical and psychological skills:

“I’ve always loved helping people, learning psychology, and understanding the inner athlete – the behind the scenes part…My biggest accomplishment is actually helping my young athletes who genuinely don’t need medication and having them get off of it, lower the dose, or have them feeling like they don’t need a pill to help them achieve their goals.”

We need coaches, athletes, gym owners, nutritionists, and dietitians now more than ever!

Addiction is very difficult and can seem impossible to get over. Therefore, we need health and fitness people to shine a light on this amazing discovery. Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by bad leadership and our society needs new leaders in order to create a shift. And we need to do this together! Research shows that with more outreach, information, and community, addiction doesn’t have to be a lonely journey.

If you are going through addiction, you’re not alone.

You don’t have to go through this journey alone. Find your community and ask for help. It’ll make all the difference!

Do you think exercise and nutrition is the answer to sobriety? Leave a comment below and let me know. Also if you like this post, make sure you share it with friends and family.

If you want to add an extra step, reach out to anyone who might be going through this path and let them know that you are there for them. We all need as much help as we can get

Til next time homies,

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

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