Exercise Found to Decrease Cravings in Those with Marijuana Dependencies

New findings from a study performed at Vanderbilt University links exercise to decreased dependency on marijuana use. According to the research, 30 minutes on a treadmill for as little as five days actually decreased urges from 12 different test subjects. The participants selected for the study were people who had a history of heavy marijuana use and showed no desire to stop.

One of the authors of the study, Peter Martin, director of the Vanderbilt Addiction Center described the results this way: “This is 10 sessions but it actually went down after the first five. The maximum reduction was already there within the first week.” Because there are currently no known effective pharmacological treatments for this type of addiction, the study provides great news for people with this problem.

In an article released last Thursday, Mac Buchowski, PhD, a co-author of the study and director of the Vanderbilt Energy Balance Laboratory, said the results would increase future research showing the relationship between exercise and wellness for those with addictions.

“It opens up exercise as a modality in prevention and treatment of, at least, marijuana abuse. And it becomes a huge issue with medical marijuana now available in some states,” Buchowski said. “What looks like an innocent, recreational habit could become a disease that has to be treated.”

Cannabis use has increased by over eight percent from 1998 to 2009 and poses a largely contested social issue in the United States. The acceptance of medical marijuana use makes the issue more complicated. Heavy use of this drug by young people has been shown to increase the possibility of developing mood issues later in life. This new treatment option presents a great opportunity to help sufferers who are not able to stop using on their own and who may not see recreational use as being harmful.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • jimi


    March 8th, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    ive been using marijuana for recreational purpose for over two years now and trust me it really isn’t a problem and I am not addicted to it.I am under control and have never strays beyond weekends when I have no work to attend to.

    but still I welcome the result of this study because I know there are a lot of people out there who smoke pot everyday because they either have no job or simply because they are so used to it.no addiction is good and even if the substance is not harmful,doing something everyday and everytime is not a healthy thing.

  • Lane


    March 8th, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    I know that this is kind of off topic, but I find that exercise helps to curb my food cravings, so why not marijuana cravings too?

  • JoNaThAn


    March 8th, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    Exercise helped me quit smoking..a friend suggested I start exercising and see if that helps my smoking habit.When I started I could hardly go beyond a few minutes because I would start panting..but then exercising felt good and I reduced the cigs and after about two months and a half,I had finally quit..now I exercise everyday and have not thought of smoking again.

  • Jane


    March 9th, 2011 at 5:41 AM

    In my experience the guys who smoke pot are not going to be the ones to turn to exercise

  • Caroline


    March 9th, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    @jimi It’s good that you, like some, can responsibly use marijuana and not give every user of it a bad name. Users know some become addicted to marijuana and they know it’s a bad thing. Even though you can’t overdose on weed you can become addicted to it, and that’s only marginally better in my book.

  • Evelyn


    March 9th, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    “What looks like an innocent, recreational habit could become a disease that has to be treated.”. This I completely disagree with. The only reason marijuana gets a bad press is because it’s illegal in most states. That’s it. You can be addicted, yes. However I think the more widespread alcoholism problem should be tackled well before weed should be considered an issue. The people who use marijuana for medical reasons use it as a painkiller, not because they want to get high.

  • StacyL


    March 10th, 2011 at 5:53 AM

    Exercise can have so many wonderful benefits. It still amazes me that so many are still so against making it a part of their lives. Where does this exercise hesitation come from? God gave us the ability to move and to do so with pleasure, to get strong. Why not take advantage of that?

  • Roxie


    March 10th, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    It’s good that we can find natural ways to break addictions. I’ve known a few who smoked more weed than they should ever have been smoking, and even they admit it’s too much. They started in college and kept on going when others dropped it. Maybe this study will make them hit the gym.

  • Chris


    March 10th, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    Use has increased only by 8%? With people being more open about smoking cannabis, medicinal usage approved and it being decriminalized in some states, I’d have imagined it would have been a much higher number over a decade.

    I do expect that percentage to jump enormously when the day comes that cannabis is legal and you can buy it like cigarettes the way you can in some European countries.

  • Sharon


    March 12th, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    How can they possibly call this a “study” when there were only twelve study participants? Such a tiny pool means next to nothing. That doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously or reported in the press as it stands. Reproduce your results with 200 participants and I might take notice, Vanderbilt!

  • Peyton


    March 12th, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    I don’t really get how they measure drug use. I doubt an individual would say “Yeah, I smoke weed on the weekends” to someone taking a survey. Especially if they are somewhere it’s illegal. Can anybody enlighten me?

  • Ellie


    March 16th, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Well Peyton, if it’s an anonymous survey they may be more agreeable about offering up that information. Or if they are asked when they are high LOL. Take your pick. :)

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