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Study says exercise can help overcome methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms

For those addicted to methamphetamine, getting clean is a daunting task. The effect of one dose of crystal meth can last for up to 12 hours, and a binge on the drug can keep the user awake for days, even a week or more. This reverses the body’s sleep cycle, and for people trying to quit the drug, it can worsen the withdrawal symptoms and increase the risk for relapse.

A recent study by the University of Queensland showed that exercise along with a controlled dose of meth can help reduce the probability of a relapse.

“Without stable and synchronised sleep rhythms, users suffer from disturbances in mood and depression, a key reason we believe they become addicted and relapse after treatment,” said Dr. Oliver Rawashdeh, a researcher at the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland.

During his research, Dr. Rawashdeh discovered that after pairing meth, which is a stimulant, with another stimulus – in this case, physical activity – a new biological clock was formed that helped resume body’s sleep and wake cycles.

He said that two weeks of the regimen helped the subjects regenerate wake and sleep cycles, and the pattern continued even after discontinuing meth.

“By doing this the brain is able to transfer the euphoric characteristics associated with the drug to a healthy stimulus – exercise – according to the principles of classical conditioning,” said Dr. Rawashdeh.

A similar high

It is this euphoria that attracts meth users. Athletes who are used to the natural dopamine rush with sports competition can fall hard for the escapist rapture of chemical high. Methamphetamines and the like have been post-career or peri-career crutches to compensate for the glory-rush some yearn for.

For instance, consider the case of Olympic diving gold-medalist Matthew Mitcham from Australia. In 2008, Matthew’s dive was the highest scoring single dive ever witnessed at the Olympics. He scored a perfect 10 for four dives, but was rated number two by an international ranking organization. For him, this was a failure because he knew he deserved the first spot. To overcome this debacle and other personal problems he had long struggled with, he took to methamphetamine as an escape.

The latest research hoped to provide breakthrough in meth addiction treatment so that individuals dependent on meth can lead a happy life.

Seeking treatment

Sovereign Health is a nationwide trailblazer in treating mental health issues, addiction and any subsequent disorders they may cause. Call our 24/7 helpline to learn more on how we use cutting-edge evidence-based treatments with alternative therapies for lasting wellness.

About the author

Kristin Currin-Sheehan is a Sovereign Health writer and her intriguing storytelling has been featured with Sovereign Health, KPBS TV/FM, FOX5 News in San Diego and NPR. Her illustrative and relatable approach to digital and broadcast news bridges businesses and consumers, news and community. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at

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