Natural Ways to Release Endorphins in Sobriety

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

It’s safe to say that everybody just wants to be happy, whatever their version of that means, but we all crave a little slice of pleasure. For some of us alcoholics and addicts, we wanted a few too many slices. Let’s face the reality of the situation though. The end goal is for everybody to want to feel good and be in a state of relief. Nobody enjoys being placed in uncomfortable situations or being in a form of discomfort- whether that be physically, mentally, or spiritually. So many of us turned to the use of narcotics and alcoholic beverages to provide that ease and high that we so deeply longed for. Then the record player skips, we’re the only ones left at the party, and living in fear becomes the norm. Before you know it, we start getting to a point where we can’t even look ourselves in the eye in the mirror. Life becomes bland and tasteless. The worst part is that while all this is going on, us addicts and alcoholics are slowly but surely building a tolerance to the chemical of choice. Uh oh. Our bodies and minds are chasing a feeling that is becoming unreachable and requires more and more to achieve. But we never meant any harm right? We just wanted to feel excellent, but when we release endorphins in that manner, it begins to catch up with us somewhere down the road.

Eventually it all blows up in our faces, so getting clean and introducing sobriety into the mixture is usually one of the best remedies for the nightmarish situations we so often put ourselves in. The idea is for the good times to keep rolling, but by chasing that good, we ended up creating a whole lot of bad. So we get clean and sober. We work the twelve steps. We get a sponsor, sponsees, meetings; I mean the whole nine yards. The promises will come true, but what next? How do we invent that “feel good” that we were chasing for so many years?  

The Alternatives

There are limitless possibilities of how to create a natural high instead of getting high from substances. As mentioned before, it’s all about trying to release endorphins. Just a quick class review, endorphins are essentially groups of hormones that become expelled into our opiate receptors from a reaction to whatever said stimulus was. Everybody is different and everybody’s bodies and minds are different too. This being said, not everybody will get the same reaction from something. Rest assured though, there are options for everyone, and it’s just a matter of a little introspection and figuring yourself out.

One of my favorite ways to release endorphins and generate that feeling is through various forms of exercise. Yes, I know it’s tedious and often seems pointless. “You just run on a treadmill and never get anywhere.” or “weight lifting is just picking things up and putting them back down.” These statements may be true to some degree, however, they are much more than that. I’m sure most who are reading this have heard of a “runner’s high.” This is not a figment or some extravagant myth. After you are running for a little bit of time and get your heart rate up, this is when the endorphins will begin to release. It will also continue for a small period of time upon finishing the activity choice of the day. Mind you this can apply to weight lifting, running, bicycling, swimming, sports games- you name it. It just comes with a little bit of perseverance and dedication sometimes. For me at least, it becomes a form of mediation which also releases those spiritual endorphins. Go ahead, pick the right tunes, clear your head and go give it a shot. Some people get their rush from extreme sports like bungee jumping, hang gliding, parachuting, etc. For some it’s anything that just drills adrenaline to their brain and heart. This isn’t necessarily bad; just pick your battles wisely is all.  Also, it’s recommended in this case to get some advice from somebody who knows what they’re doing in your aerobic of choice. Injuries will just toss more stress and discomfort into the pot.

happy woman painting outside

Another substitute to help release endorphins is practicing different forms of art. Now slow down, this doesn’t mean you have to draw or be able to paint. Look for all sorts of forms and think outside the box. Some chase that feeling through photography, where as some might be into cooking. Some create electronics and then you have some that write novels, poetry, and other penned wordings. The point is that these can all be translated into creating. For some of us, it gives us that feeling like we had when we were getting loaded. Nothing can bother us and the world is quiet when we delve into our new endorphin production of choice.

Lastly, one endorphin delivering stimulant for many is helping others. Call me crazy, I know, I know. Think about it though. Have you ever been helping somebody, put all this effort into it, were greatly appreciated, and then felt awful afterwards? I’ll answer that one for you with an enormous “no.” Its conclusion for many is that love is what makes the world go round. It is significantly part of the human condition. So when we spread love in various forms, whether it be physical, mental , sexual, or spiritual, it’s only natural to feel that warm fuzzy feeling on the inside that coats your whole body in a state of happiness. Helping others and being there for your fellow human beings is an effective way to achieve that state of soaring.

Struggling to Find Your Endorphins?

It happens to the best of us. We get sucked into the world of chemicals and can’t seem to feel anything but horrible anymore. There are options out there for people like you or maybe a loved one. If you or somebody you know needs help discovering these endorphins or even themselves in general, please call 844-489-0836 or visit www.firststepsrecovery.com. A team of trained specialists are waiting to help anybody who is ready for a change they can be happy and comfortable with.

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