Opioid and other drug addictions in the United States has reached staggering levels. In 2017 there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the US. That number is unfortunately expected to rise over the next 5 years.
Drug addiction is a serious problem. Individuals often become addicted to drugs due to pain. A common addiction scenario involves student athletes who are prescribed opioids to relieve pain so that they could continue to perform athletically. Opioids can be immediately addictive, especially for immature adolescent brains and bodies; once the individual is no longer able to get legal prescriptions for the drug, they turn to cheaper, more readily available illegal drugs. This slippery slope can lead to serious drug addictions like heroin.
Opioids are highly addictive because they attach to opioid-receptors in the central nervous system and digestive tract, leading to euphoric feelings of peace, well-being and pain-relief. Opioid recovery can be extremely challenging because in addition to the physical addiction, the brain can become chemically addicted to these feelings. Cryotherapy can be so helpful during the recovery process because it can naturally mimic opioid-induced feelings of well-being, peace and pain-relief!!
Here are the main reasons why cryotherapy can assist in the addiction recovery process:
- Cryotherapy stimulates the release of norepinephrine, an excitatory neurotransmitter that increases cognitive and physical energy. Mental and physical fatigue are common symptoms of addiction recovery—alleviating this “malaise” can help recovering individuals return to a normal, healthy lifestyle that includes work, socializing and exercise.
- Cryotherapy stimulates the release of beta-endorphins by tricking the brain into thinking it is in danger due to exposure to cold temperature. In reality, cryotherapy is conducted in a very controlled and safe environment where the risk of injury is negligible. In response to this perceived threat, the brain triggers the release of beta-endorphins as part of the “fight or flight” process. As mentioned earlier, endorphins are natural substances, similar to opiates, that reduce pain and encourage feelings of well-being, peace and optimism. Cryotherapy can actually mimic the effects of opioids in the brain and body—increasing the likelihood of recovery success!! Recovering individuals are less likely to revert to opioid use if they can generate the positive feelings that opioids provide through safe, natural cryotherapy.
- Cryotherapy is highly anti-Inflammatory. New research links inflammation to depression, mood disorder and many neurological disorders which can impede addiction recovery. Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, cryotherapy can relieve depression, mood swings and insomnia—as well as many physical conditions like auto-immune disorders, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and more. Cryotherapy is a great way for recovering addicts to feel better, both physically and mentally—increasing their odds of recovery success!!
- Cryotherapy can relieve depression through its anti-inflammatory effects and stimulation of beta-endorphins. Depression is common amongst recovering individuals—relieving depression improves the likelihood of long-term, durable recovery.
- Cryotherapy is physically and mentally challenging to complete and can build will power and self-discipline in users. Each cryotherapy is a victory that recovering addicts can feel positive about. Users can project these victories onto their everyday life, making them stronger and more confident facing other types of challenges.
- During cryotherapy your body increases metabolism in order to generate more heat. This metabolic increase leads to enhanced mental and physical energy—empowering recovering individuals to return to healthy lifestyle habits like exercise, work, socializing etc.
- Insomnia relief! Cryotherapy has been shown to increase the duration and quality of sleep! Sleep is a critical component to successful recovery and a return to healthy lifestyle choices.
- Cryotherapy improves the immune system as part of the “fight or flight” process. A stronger immune system can be extremely beneficial to the recovery process.
- Cryotherapy is highly detoxifying both chemically and emotionally. Through the vasoconstriction/vasodilation sequence cryotherapy can help to physically detoxify recovering addicts. Additionally, cryotherapy can help recovering individuals to detoxify bad habits, relationships and thought patterns. Cryotherapy is a great “reset” for recovering individuals.
It is important to emphasize that cryotherapy should only be utilized by recovering individuals who are medically cleared for moderate exercise. Cryotherapy is equivalent to mild to moderate exercise: the heart rate and blood pressure will increase slightly. Recovering individuals should check with their physician and recovery specialist to confirm that he or she is healthy enough for cryotherapy. Cryotherapy does exert mild, controlled stress on all systems of the body: cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, neurological and more. Please consult with a recovery specialist physician or professional prior to utilizing cryotherapy for addiction recovery. There are significant contraindications for cryotherapy use and recovering individuals must be additionally screened for potential risk factors.
In the fight for recovery from addiction all tools must be employed. The rate of recidivism for drug addicted individuals is extraordinarily high, especially for certain types of addiction. Cryotherapy may improve an individual’s chances for recovery success!!