Aquatic therapy—whether spa therapy or hydrotherapy—has been used throughout history, at least since ancient Greece, for medical or healing purposes.
With many physical rehabs recognizing the healing abilities of aquatic therapy, it is no wonder that many rehabs for substance use disorder are now considering adding pools at their centers. Many rehabs already have pools that residents can use as part of the therapy process.
Health-Based Benefits of Swimming and Water Therapy
Many studies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shown the benefits that come from swimming and other aquatic therapies. Understanding how these benefits work with the body to overcome specific conditions, including addiction, can lead those looking for assistance choose a rehab that offers aquatic therapy or at least a pool.
According to the CDC, water-based exercise helps fight chronic diseases, keeps you in shape, alters your mood, and offers a wide range of other benefits.
Aquatic therapy also provides other benefits, including:
- Limits pressure on the joints, making water exercises easier to perform
- Improves focus
- Relaxes the body
- Improves moods
- Optimizes circulation
- Reduces weight
- Builds muscle
- Gives therapeutic benefits
- Serves as low-impact exercise
- Provides an available and accessible form of physical fitness
Numerous rehab facilities make it easy to incorporate this type of therapy into their treatment plans.
How Does Swimming and Exercise Help with Addiction?
Studies show that regular exercise can help with many different problems, physical and mental, including addiction.
One study on rats addicted to various substances—meth, cocaine, morphine—showed that those that used exercise wheels most often were more likely to resist their addictions compared to those who didn’t have access to wheels.
A similar study examined thirty-eight human participants who had addictions. Of those who stayed in exercise programs three times a week for two to six months, ten people decreased their substance use, and five quit using altogether.
Exercise helps increase the production of some hormones, including endorphins, that may produce euphoria that may distract users from their cravings.
Physical fitness may help in other ways, including social ways. It can serve as a positive change to an everyday schedule, allowing mingling with new people and old friends around an activity such as running.
Exercising and swimming can also help reduce anxiety, depression, other mental health disorders, and the need to use substances of addiction.
Using Swimming and Other Addiction Therapies Together
Using a variety of addiction treatments together may produce better results than using just one treatment. Many treatment centers recommend a series of types of treatments to obtain the best results, depending on the type of addiction and the person’s history.
Medication-assisted treatments (MATs) is the use of certain drugs along with therapy to replace or stop substance use disorder. Although it is not as common as other treatments, it is one of the most successful treatments for opioid use disorder.
For various addictions, especially opioid or heroin addiction, MAT can reduce the chances of relapse. Those who choose not to use a medication-assisted treatment have a 50% chance of using the substance again. When used in addition to psychotherapy, exercise therapy, or other treatment methods, it may provide a positive outcome.
Combining various methods, including medication, can reduce mortality rates in people who have addictions, particularly opioid addictions.
The Importance of Finding a Rehab That Offers a Swimming Pool
Many rehab facilities offer numerous ways to exercise. Some may have exercise rooms with equipment, some may offer classes, others may have a pool for clients to use. Exercise is extremely important to the recovery process from drug addiction.
When you enter a rehab center, you’re not going to have the strength and stamina that you once had. Swimming can make exercising easier, plus it is fun, comfortable, and relaxing. These benefits help balance your moods during your exercise program.
You’re able to build muscle, but also work on your mind at the same time, as physical fitness offers tremendous therapeutic benefits to your overall well-being.
Activities such as swimming help you create goals and stick with them. You can continue to become stronger and better at traveling longer distances and swimming harder than before. Swimming also helps you regain your health, especially after drugs or alcohol have damaged it.
You can practice breathing and your swimming form and focus your body and mind without having to deal with outside factors. This focus can also come in handy when you’re outside of the water and need to decide whether to use substances again or stay on a sober path.
Swimming can become a part of your new lifestyle when you go to a rehab that offers a swimming pool. Incorporating swimming into your regular lifestyle once you leave a facility can help you to continue to stay on the right path to recovery. It can help you find time for yourself to focus on the better things in life.
- ard.bmj.com – A Brief History of Spa Therapy
- cdc.gov – Health Benefits of Water-Based Exercise
- health.harvard.edu – Can Exercise Help Conquer Addiction?
- bmj.com – Mortality Risk During and After Opioid Substitution Treatment: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies.</ncbi.nlm.nih.gov >
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.