• David Thibodeau

Sports and Rehabilitation

Updated: Feb 2

I recently read “From The Ashes” by Jesse Thistle. There was a section in the book when Jesse was talking about his rehabilitation from many years of substance abuse. He was in Harvest House Ministries in Ottawa where he states that they used running as part of the rehabilitation program. In the book he says that the dopamine of running affects the same area of your brain as coke, so running helps queels cravings. This can also be applied to help quit smoking, aerobic exercise can help dull cravings.


There are a lot of programs that exist already to help treatment of addictions.


The Run to Quit program is all about helping tobacco users quit smoking by running or walking 5km over the course of a 10 week training program. Physical activity is known to reduce the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms, lessen cravings and provide a healthy outlet for stress and help establish new routines. It is also suggested the running may help lung recovery after quitting smoking.


Some of the benefits from running that Edgewood Health Network Canada has seen from their Run for Recovery program are:

  • Emotional stability

  • Increase mental clarity

  • Help heal your brain (Research has shown that addiction can cause long-lasting changes in the brain. However, human brains have some ability to reverse changes caused by addiction and evidence suggests that running can help reverse brain damage that resulted from substance use.)

  • Improve mood

  • Boost confidence

  • Be part of a community

There is a women’s running group in Ottawa that helps with addiction. The Amethyst Ottawa Addiction Centre used running as a means of helping with treatment as well.


There are so many examples of how running can help. I think that running is focused on a lot because it may be a cheaper sport for people to participate in (all you really need are running shoes!) but I think that this can be replicated with other sports or other forms of physical activity. This is another way that sport can be used to help society. We should invest more in sports programming to help those who are trying to quit, and move forward with their lives.