Alcoholism has affected and continues to affect countless people, who come to the disease from every background imaginable. No background is immune from the possibility of this deeply debilitating and potentially harmful genetic condition that makes someone especially vulnerable to abusing alcohol seemingly involuntarily, and so it may easy to feel powerless and even hopeless.
However, the positive truth is that you are not powerless and hopeless. There are a variety of ways to learn how to reach sobriety, and live a healthy lifestyle free of alcohol.
Taking the time to take care of yourself with enjoyable exercise is one of the most effective practices for replacing the bad habit of addiction with positive habits of healthy living. However, some recent, exciting research suggests that, even more then that.
According to a recent study, physical exercise may even prevent alcoholism before it starts.
A new study suggesting a link
Dr. Ulrik Becker is director of the National Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark, and is the co-author of a startling study that was published in the December 2014 edition of Alcohol and Alcoholism. By using surveys to follow a group of 18,000 adults over the course of 20 years, the Danish study revealed that people who reported engaging in more physical activity were significantly less likely to be hospitalized for issues related to an alcohol use disorder.
Even a low level of physical activity, when contrasted with a totally sedentary lifestyle, made participants 30 to 40 percent less likely to abuse alcohol to the point of creating a serious health crisis. Of course, while this is a very significant co-relation, it is difficult to say whether or not this can be considered a causality.
More research needs to be done, but Dr. Becker was quoted in a Reuters Health report that he is of the belief that "it is likely that there is a causal link," between physical exercise and the development of an alcohol use disorder or addictive behavior. While around half of the causes of alcoholism may be genetic, this study can be taken as evidence that there are practices, including physical activity, that can stave off the development of a damaging addiction.
Possible reasons for this link
Many people in recovery from addiction have found that regular physical exercise is of immeasurable help in helping them live a healthy and full sober life. At a superficial level, physical activity may simply be a hard, all-consuming habit that can take your mind off your cravings and withdraw symptoms.
Simply put, if you wear yourself out with running, yoga, swimming, or a team sport, you will have less energy and time to give to your craving for alcohol.
However, there are also physical reasons why physical activity can be of benefit beyond simply being a distraction. Feelings of relaxation, excitement, and pleasure are produced by dopamine, a chemical received by your brain to give these good feelings.
It turns out that both exercise and alcohol use are effective ways of getting large amounts of dopamine. The only difference is that alcohol can result in physical harm, as well as lead to you building up tolerance so you are less able to feel it's effects.
Exercise, on the other hand, improves your body's ability to function, and can produce dopamine levels that will not wear off. Exercise can be a very effective way of relieving stress.
Addiction to alcohol makes people harm themselves, because they feel a powerful craving to something that, at excessive levels, can hinder the body's functioning, and even be poisonous. Yet the addict continues to drink, fulfilling that urge no matter what the risks or harm.
In recovery, and possible even to prevent addiction in the first place, you need to have positive habits and routines that can give you another source of enjoying life. Physical activity can do an excellent job of playing that role.