"You'd have to be crazy not to go": Physical activity during substance use disorder treatment


Background: Substance use disorder (SUD), more commonly known as addiction, is a frequently diagnosed mental disorder. Although there are therapies for this disorder, most of them are characterized by low retention rates and relapses. Physical activity (PA) is considered a new solution to improve treatment, based on its benefits for health. Few studies have observed improvement following PA intervention, but most of them have omitted patients' perception of PA. Objective: To Understand the PA perception of patients undergoing treatment for SUD. Methods: Thirteen patients (69% men; 33.4 ± 8.3 years old) were interviewed after experiencing addition of 12 sessions of PA during their treatment. Results: Following the content analysis, 3 predominant themes emerged: PA was (1) a way to take care of themselves, through the improvement of their health; (2) used as a protective mechanism against relapse, through the occupation time, behavior replacement and creating a healthy network; (3) served as a factor in treatment maintenance because patients felt they were in a better predisposition to follow the treatment. Conclusion: Practicing PA during treatment helps to develop healthy lifestyle habits that may support adherence to treatment, but also confidence in the ability to cope with future relapse.

Acknowledgments: Fond de recherche du Québec en santé (FRQS), Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal (CR-IUSMM), CICC, RISQ, IUD, RÉSO (16-35)