Physical Therapy and Substance Abuse Treatment

When we think of a drug or substance abuse treatment, we think of the treatment focusing on the mental, emotional, and behavioral aspects of the abuser. But substance use disorders are associated with a wide range of short- and long-term health effects. They can vary depending on the type of drug, how much and how often it’s taken, and the person’s general health. Overall, the effects of drug abuse and dependence can be widespread. They can impact almost every system in the human body, including all of the physical components.

Some physical health side effects of drug addiction may include:

  • Weakened immune systems, leading to frequent colds or regular bouts of the flu
  • Injuries sustained in accidents, many of which require a long rehabilitation
  • Worsening of the symptoms of pre-existing illnesses, like diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis B or C
  • Chronic pain
  • The onset of diseases and disorders directly caused by substance abuse, including liver disease, lung disease, arthritis, dementia, and certain types of cancers

Physical Therapy and Substance Abuse Treatment

Physical Therapy in Addiction Treatment

When a person who abuses substances come out of being numb and are aware of what they are going through mentally, physically and emotionally; they will see a decline in their physical, emotional, and psychological strength and resiliency, and will need all their resources to meet the immense challenges they face. Before therapy begins they must face the known fear of withdrawals in detox. One of the many reasons why users continue to abuse drugs is the pain caused by withdrawal symptoms. However, there are now medical detoxification treatments that can aid in making the patient more comfortable.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):

Medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use. However, medical detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug use. Although detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicts achieve long-term abstinence, for some individuals it is a strongly indicated precursor to effective drug addiction treatment.

Physical therapy as part of a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program is an effective and integrative component for a patient’s success.

Good Health Habits Are Crucial for Addiction Recovery

To get the most out of treatment and have the best chance of continuing on the path of recovery, those suffering from substance use disorders must regain good health in all dimensions – mental, emotional, and physical. The one that gets overlooked the most can have more of an impact than one would think – physical therapy. Physical therapy will not help with all the conditions, but it can help with many and is associated with better outcomes for people who enter treatment for a substance use disorder.

When we think of physical therapy we usually think of therapy to help someone to gain range of motion but there are five subspecialties of physical therapy, four of which could be relevant to people receiving treatment for alcohol or drug use disorders:

  1. Orthopedic – For those who have musculoskeletal conditions, which include problems affecting the joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Therapy is designed to restore flexibility and lost functioning.
  2. Geriatric – Elderly people often need specialized services to help deal with conditions related to aging. Therapy will focus on restoring mobility, reducing chronic pain, and improving overall conditioning and fitness.
  3. Neurological – This type of physical therapy is specifically tailored to help people who face physical challenges related to neurological disorders or brain injuries.
  4. Cardiopulmonary – Cardiovascular diseases and pulmonary disorders can limit physical activity. Physical therapy for such conditions introduces patients to activities designed to improve conditioning and endurance.
  5. Pediatric – This is a specialty devoted to the diverse therapeutic needs of children and adolescents.

People battling substance abuse often lose flexibility, strength, and endurance due to long periods of inactivity and physical neglect. Lack of exercise, poor diet and the overall stress of alcohol and drug abuse on the body all contribute to their poor health, and they could also suffer from injuries from accidents during their active addiction which can make their situation more difficult.

Besides the popular forms of physical therapy, there is also the holistic approach, which can aid in improving the body’s strength, energy levels, and stress relief. Such practices include yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture, and more. All of these practices of therapy can aid in your path to a new and healthy sober you.

Garden State is Here to Help

Clients receive both individual and group therapy sessions at Garden State Treatment Center. Our therapies each have the multi-faceted goals of resolving traumatic events, peer support, and long term relapse prevention.

The most important thing you can expect from your Garden State Treatment Center Treatment experience is that you will emerge from it transformed, stable, and ready to begin a lifetime of recovery.