File this one under “No shit, Sherlock”:
A new study of the relationship between alcohol intake and wheel-running in hamsters has found that exercise may provide an effective alternative for reducing alcohol intake in humans.
[S]aid Alan M. Rosenwasser, professor of psychology at the University of Maine, chronic alcohol abuse and circadian disruption become reciprocally destructive and result in negative effects on physical and emotional health.
“Dopamine is the primary chemical released within the brain in response to any type of reward, including exercise, drugs, food, and sex,” [study corresponding author J. David Glass] said. “For humans, exercise may be an effective, beneficial, and naturally rewarding substitute for any type of addiction.”
To be fair, all of this may actually be news to addiction researchers even though drinkers with a running problem themselves have been aware of these things for decades, and the research team did establish a common link–circadian rhythm regulation–offering insight into why, other than the variously triggered dopamine-reward system that was elucidated a long time ago, exercise helps keep people on the wagon. Still, the fact that scientists are just now catching on to the vital role exercise plays in managing chemical dependency underscores a greater clinical reality: All too often, exercise is never mentioned by psychiatrists treating all manner of substance-abuse problems and mood disorders, with the primary and typically sole intervention being a prescription drug with or without the suggestion to attend support groups.