Effects of acute exercise on drug craving, self-esteem, mood and affect in adults with poly-substance dependence: feasibility and preliminary findings


Introduction and Aims. Novel treatments for substance use disorders are needed. Acute bouts of exercise can improve mood states in non-clinical populations, but effects in those with poly-substance dependence are understudied. We examined the feasibility and short-term effects of three types of exercise on drug cravings, self-esteem, mood and positive/negative affect in nine poly-drug-dependent inpatients. Design and Methods. Using a cross-over design, changes in the four study outcomes were assessed immediately before exercise and on four separate occasions post-exercise (immediately after, then at 1, 2 and 4 h post-exercise) enabling patterns of change over time (analysis of covariance) to be observed. Results. Participants were willing and able to engage in different non-laboratory based exercises. Football was associated with non-significant short-term reductions in drug cravings. A similar trend was seen for circuit-training, but not walking. Football and circuit-training were associated with brief improvements in mood and positive/negative affect and self-esteem. No adverse events were reported. Discussion and Conclusions. Football, circuit training and walking are feasible therapeutic activities for inpatients with poly-substance dependence, and may be useful coping strategies for this patient group. Controlled trials are needed to determine the effects of these activities. We plan to run a multicenter randomized controlled study on this topic in Spring 2019, and will present preliminary results at the conference.


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