Stress and Addiction

Dec 2019 Stress and Addiction

Stress is often considered one of the great dangers of the modern world. Its effect on your health and well-being can be very devastating. This problem is particularly an issue for those who experience addiction or high levels of anxiety. When people are overly stressed or anxious, they might turn to substances as a way to relax. As a result, stress and addiction often co-occur. 

Being able to manage your stress levels, especially in recovery, is crucial to avoiding addiction and relapse. In this blog, we will focus on stress and recovery. We’ll also take a look at some of the stress management techniques that help people avoid using substances to cope.

The Dangers of Stress

Stress causes physical and emotional troubles that can be problematic for those with or without addictions. Therefore, you need to both understand and control the way that you react to stress to stay healthy and safe. 

A few reactions to stress that people sometimes have include:

  • High levels of physical anxiety
  • Headaches that can be hard to manage
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Emotional outbursts out of nowhere
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Troubles with sleeping
  • Chest pain
  • Lack of motivation and focus
  • Higher risk of self-medicating
  • Stronger chance of drug relapse

The last two issues on this list are of particular importance for those dealing with substance abuse and addiction issues. If you don’t know how to deal with your stress in a healthy way, you may start using substances to cope with stress. This, in turn, can cause you to develop a substance addiction. 

Falling into addictive patterns of behavior can be devastating. Thankfully, individuals that have struggled with stress and addiction can learn healthier stress-management techniques while in treatment. Through the use of healthy stress management techniques, individuals can manage their stress without the use of drugs or alcohol.

The Connection Between Stress and Addiction

Everyone deals with stress in their lives on a daily basis. However, everyone handles their stress in a different way. Some people might turn to activities or hobbies as a way of stress relief. For example, some people relieve their stress while doing yoga or exercising at the gym. Others might turn to drugs and/or alcohol as a way to relax and unwind. While using drugs and alcohol as a way to relieve stress might help in the short term, in the long term it might actually do more harm than good. 

As the body grows more reliant and dependent on substances for stress relief, it will not only begin to crave substances more and more in stressful situations, but it will also begin to crave them when one is not in stressful situations. As a result, some individuals that use substances as a form of stress relief will develop substance dependency and even addiction. 

Once an individual becomes dependent on substances, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms when minimizing or discontinuing his or her use of those substances. Oftentimes, one of these withdrawal symptoms is stress. Thus, the very thing that you may have started using substances to avoid could start occurring more and more often due to your substance use. That’s why it’s so important to use proper stress management techniques. 

Stress Management Techniques to Consider

Stress management techniques require some practice. Yet still, they are typically things that anyone can do.  

Practicing proper stress management techniques, especially in the early days of the recovery process, can go a long way in helping you feel better. Proper stress management techniques can also aid in avoiding a stress-induced relapse. Let’s take a look at some stress management techniques that can help people that struggle with stress and addiction.

The Relaxation Response

The relaxation response is a real metabolic change that occurs in everybody. When it happens, your metabolism slows, your breathing and heart rates decrease, and your brain calms down. This reaction is something that may occur subconsciously at any time. However, you can also trigger this response if you practice. Stress management techniques don’t come much more easily than this one.

The key to triggering this stress management technique is to start by repeating a single word and letting it become meaningless. This activity is important because your mind often triggers the relaxation response due to sound repetitions. 

Binaural beats may help as well as they include a sustained series of sound waves that relax many people. Others may react better to repetitive muscular actions, such as squeezing their fists. Performing this technique when stressful thoughts occur can help you stay relaxed.

Practice Yoga and Meditation

Yoga and meditation may not appeal to some people, however, these ancient stress management techniques have been used for centuries. Clearly, if people still practice this ancient stress management technique, it must work in some way.

Studies have found that yoga minimizes your stress by releasing endorphin chemicals. Meditation clears the mind and makes it easier to focus on what matters in your life.

One of the great things about yoga and meditation is that both can be done practically anywhere at any time. You can go and attend yoga classes if you choose to. You can also just look up some yoga techniques online and do them at your home, office, favorite park, favorite beach, or wherever you want. 

The same goes for meditation. All you need to meditate is a quiet place where you can sit, calm your mind, and breathe deeply. You don’t even have to move your body to meditate. 

It’s important to remember that while meditating or practicing yoga certain thoughts may enter your brain. This is perfectly normal and natural. When this happens, just simply let the thoughts go away. While it takes some practice, anyone can master the art of meditation and yoga.

Focus on Self-Love

While it’s important to focus on your mind and body, it’s also important to focus on yourself and your self-love. People rarely think about what they love about themselves.  Many people might even feel that doing so is shallow. Others, for whatever reason, might not like very much about themselves, unfortunately. 

While it might seem superficial or shallow, it’s important to dedicate at least a few minutes a day to think about all the things you like about yourself. Maybe you got a haircut recently that you really love or you really like how you look in a certain outfit you put on. Instead of ignoring it, acknowledge it to yourself. It might seem stupid or insignificant, but it can be a great way to help manage your stress and just make you feel better about yourself.

This can be particularly true for those who are struggling with stress and addiction. Doing something as simple as telling yourself the things you like about yourself can help lower your stress levels naturally. This, in turn, can prevent you from feeling the need to indulge in substance abuse. 

Surround Yourself With Positive People

Being around negative people or people that put off bad vibes can indirectly lead to increased stress levels. Thus, if you are actively trying to stay clean and sober, hanging around the people that you used to use substances with will likely cause you to stress and relapse. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with a positive group of people. This is especially true early on in the recovery process. 

Attending support group meetings such as AA while in recovery can be a great way to meet people like yourself who are also sober. Attending such support group meetings is also a great way to build a positive support system. Surrounding yourself with positive, like-minded people who all share a common goal of staying sober can help you manage the stresses of daily life. 

Want To Know More About Stress and Recovery?

Here at Phoenix Rising Recovery, we can teach you stress management techniques that can help you achieve and maintain your sobriety. We can also provide high-quality care for addiction. 

Our four-acre ranch is not only sensitive to the needs of our patients, but it’s also very relaxing. That’s just one benefit of receiving addiction treatment here at Phoenix Rising Recovery. 

Here at Phoenix Rising Recovery, we allow various religious observances on our campuses and provide our patients with specialized meals that are based on their culture if they want it. That is how much we cater to the needs of each of our patients here. 

On top of all the ways that we cater to the needs of our patients, we also provide a wide range of top-notch, evidence-based addiction treatment programs that revitalize our patients’ minds and bodies. Thus, if you or someone you know is in need of substance addiction treatment contact us. 

We want everyone who enters our facility to no longer struggle with stress and addiction. Instead, we do everything that we can to ensure that our patients live happy, healthy, and sober lives after completing treatment at our facility.