Methamphetamines and exercise target some of the same regions in the brain. The “high” one gets from exercise is, on a physiological scale, similar to the high one gets from meth. Meth, also known as crystal meth or ice, is a synthetic stimulant drug. Being high on methamphetamine is characterized by having an excess amount of energy, alertness, awareness, focus, and enough blood to make the body feel stronger than normal. Meth abuse can keep people up for days at a time with endless activity. Researchers feel that exercise can help make use of that tendency to be hyperactive, especially once meth leaves the body.
Meth addiction in extreme cases can leave someone awake for ten days or more. Usually the person isn’t conscious for the whole ten days, but their brains and bodies are still moving. Circadian rhythm is the natural 24 hour process the brain and body experiences, which includes sleep. Because methamphetamines keep people awake for days on end, it directly disrupts natural circadian rhythm. Resetting an unsettled sleep pattern in recovery usually requires the use of prescription medications for sleep. For meth addicts in particular, even a sleeping pill might not work.
Exercise helps reset the circadian rhythm. People report sleeping better after including twenty minutes to an hour of exercise into their daily routine. Exercise helps the body get rid of excess energy so there is less to disrupt sleep. Additionally, having been worked and done physical output, the body is prone to sleeping deeper as well as longer. Even without the presence of methamphetamines or other stimulating medications, exercise can help a recovering meth addict get a good night sleep.
Part of the equation is the similarity in the way exercise and meth affect the brain. In recovery, the brain is desperately seeking some source of pleasure. Without pleasurable stimuli, the brain is restless, resorting to sending out signals of distress in the forms of cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Exercise as part of a methamphetamine recovery program helps to reset the otherwise unorganized brain circuits. Essentially, the brain’s natural clock is reset.
Avalon By The Sea offers clinically renown care for substance use disorders like methamphetamine addiction. For a confidential assessment and information about our treatment programs, call 1-888-958-7511.