If you have ever gotten the “runner’s high” then you know how addicting this feeling can be. Resent research is now linking that euphoric natural high to one that is similar to a drug addicts high. It seems as though these two “highs” can be addictive in different ways. Luxury addiction treatment programs strive to help kick the dangers of drugs but exercise could be the real solution for long term addicts.
Although these two addictions have very different affects on the health of your body; they have the same level of addiction. This would explain why people can take exercise to the extreme and develop anorexia athletica. As with drug addiction, people who strive to attain the runners high on a consistent basis, also go through similar withdrawal symptoms.
“Exercise, like drugs of abuse, leads to the release of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and dopamine, which are involved with a sense of reward,” Kanarek said. “As with food intake and other parts of life, moderation seems to be the key. Exercise, as long as it doesn’t interfere with other aspects of one’s life, is a good thing with respect to both physical and mental health.”
These findings, in conjunction with results of studies demonstrating that intake of drugs of abuse and running activates the endogenous opioid and dopamine reward systems, suggest that it might be possible to substitute drug-taking behavior with naturally rewarding behavior,” she writes (source).
Maybe what we need instead of jail time for people abusing drugs is a treadmill and some healthy food. Sentencing people to running could save the government a lot of money!