Can Healthy Eating And Exercise Counter The Effects of Drug Use?

Can Healthy Eating And Exercise Counter The Effects of Drug Use?

By David Konow 08/17/16

“The idea that you’re gonna protect yourself from drugs and alcohol through nutrition and exercise is like trying to fight a house fire with a wet sponge.”

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Can Healthy Eating And Exercise Counter The Effects of Drug Use?

Many people like to think they can counter a bad diet with a lot of exercise, without realizing it can take hours on a treadmill to work off a donut. Many also believe that putting in enough gym time can hold off the effects of drinking and drugs—but is this really the case? Vice examined this topic and got the answers.

Before conducting his research, writer Jack Blocker wondered, “Could I mitigate the harms of casual alcoholism by drinking more celery smoothies? Can you repair a cocaine-damaged heart by doing 900 press-ups every single morning for the rest of your life?”

One personal trainer that Blocker consulted set him straight: “The idea that you’re gonna protect yourself from drugs and alcohol through nutrition and exercise is like trying to fight a house fire with a wet sponge.”

As the trainer explained, four cans of beer would take 30 to 40 minutes of intense running to work off, but don’t expect to totally counter the effects of tobacco or marijuana with exercise. “The idea that you can run for 10 miles to clear your lungs of carcinogens…it’s not going to happen.”

With MDMA, or ecstasy, there’s also the potential for heart damage because it constricts the blood vessels and the heart has to work harder to circulate blood. Yet, with this drug, healthy supplements like the amino acid 5HTP can help when coming down from the high, because they can help replace serotonin.

And certainly, exercise will not counter the effects of harder stuff like cocaine, because of the damage it can do to the heart. At the same time, one effect of cocaine, heart swelling, can be reversible with exercise along with abstinence from the drug.

A dietician added that a good diet can’t counter the effects of drugs either: “If you’re drinking huge amounts and you're taking drugs, you’re wreaking havoc with your body, and nothing is going to fix that.”

Ultimately, exercise can’t hold off the bad effects of drugs in the midst of drug use. As one doctor told Vice, “Taking drugs isn’t like debit and credit; there isn’t the fat-burning equivalent.” 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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