Cold showers are a popular health trend lately, with benefits that range from healthier hair and skin to giving you more energy and vigor. Like many popular health trends, this one is a revival of older health treatment, such as the hydrotherapy that AA founder Bill Wilson was prescribed as part of his alcohol addiction therapy in the 1930s. The idea has been popular for decades, thought to boost the immune system, reduce anxiety and depression and, you guessed it – help fight drug and alcohol addiction.
While no one posits that taking cold showers will break your addiction to alcohol or drugs, there may be some benefits to chilly bathing. These are some of the benefits of cold showers that relate to addiction rehabilitation.
Cold Showers Lessen Depressive Symptoms
Cold showers increase the body’s production of the hormone noradrenaline, which is responsible for producing the “fight or flight” response. When noradrenaline is released, it overrides the depression you’re feeling and temporarily alleviates your mood, making you feel more energetic and less depressed. Some studies indicate that a cold shower a few times a week can help relieve depression by stimulating noradrenaline production, naturally boosting your mood.
Cold showers also reduce the blood flow from your extremities to your major organs, including your brain. So, a few times per week, your brain gets a big dose of oxygen-rich blood, helping it function better. If you’re newly sober, this oxygenated blood can help heal some of the damage to brain tissue that drugs and alcohol caused, helping you recover faster.
Cold water has another brain benefit, too – it helps reduce inflammation in the brain tissue. Inflammation is linked to clinical depression, and by cooling down your body, you may reduce inflammation and ease your depression symptoms.
Cold Showers Soothe Anxiety
This may seem a little counterintuitive on the surface since a long, hot bath is recommended for people to relax. But cold showers can boost your brain’s beta-endorphin levels, too. This chemical acts on the opioid receptors in your brain, which can blunt your cravings. Beta-endorphin also promotes bodily homeostasis and reduces physical stress, resulting in better pain management and activating the reward system in your brain. So, cold showers may help when Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) sets in.
Cold Showers Train You to Be Uncomfortable
Just thinking of getting up and taking a cold shower probably fills you with dread, and this is indeed something that you would have to force yourself to do. You need willpower and self-discipline to jump under a fridge stream of water. The benefit is this: the more that you exercise your ability to use willpower and self-discipline, the easier it becomes to do things that you should do but don’t want to instead of doing things you want to do that aren’t good for you, like drinking and using drugs. As you exercise your willpower and self-discipline, it becomes stronger, like muscles, which may make overcoming temptations and resisting cravings easier.
Do You Need Drug or Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
We can help. Hickory Treatment Centers offers comprehensive, evidence-based rehabilitation therapy, including full-day therapy, intensive outpatient treatments, and relapse prevention strategies. We also partner with reputable detoxification facilities in our area that we can refer you to. Contact a compassionate counselor today to learn about your options.