When asked, most addicts say they started abusing substances in an attempt to manage stress. But do drugs help relieve stress? The truth is that stress can lead you to alcohol and drugs, and ultimately introduce you to addiction.
Sadly, having stress can make your recovery process difficult – stress is a significant cause of relapse. While in recovery, you need to learn healthier ways to manage stress to recover and prevent falling back to substance abuse.
The Vicious Cycle of Stress
While stress can keep you alert and motivated, it can negatively affect your health when experienced over a long duration of time. According to Medlineplus.gov, simply defined, “stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline.”
Having uncontrolled chronic stress can make you feel overworked and start panicking. Later on, you may develop an adverse stress reaction, called distress, which affects your mood and behavior. As a result, you may turn to substances and compulsive behaviors in an attempt to cope. Unfortunately, the more stressed you are, the more you will want to use substances and participate in compulsive behaviors. Rather than actually getting rid of stress and developing a healthy, peaceful body state, you get distracted from addressing the stressor itself. Eventually, stress gets control over your body, leaving you in a stressed state – the vicious cycle.
Some of the effects of stress include:
Increased blood pressure
Causes of Stress While in Recovery
According to research, your brain becomes more sensitive to stress when you become addicted to drugs, and as a means to cope, you may become addicted. When in recovery, your top priority is to maintain sobriety and learn coping mechanisms to help manage stress and prevent relapse. Some of the causes of stress while in recovery include:
With stress being a significant cause of relapse, it something you need to work on when in recovery to be successful.
How to Manage Stress During Recovery
There are many different ways of managing stress while in recovery.
Know the Stressor
You can’t manage stress unless you know what is causing it. Little things such as running late can make you feel stressed. Being on bad terms with your friends or family members can worsen the situation. While in recovery, focus on identifying the stressor and take proactive steps to deal with it. If you run late, try waking up earlier. If you have broken relationships, work on rebuilding them.
Getting Adequate Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is key. Inadequate sleep can make you feel sluggish, tired, and moody during the day. To manage stress, you need to focus on your sleep patterns because it helps rejuvenate your body and mind. Getting adequate sleep makes you feel better when solving challenging situations during recovery without feeling fatigued. Prioritize making a sleeping routine – going to bed at the same time each day – to get a night of better sleep. With time you will experience a sounder night’s sleep when your stressor disappears.
Mindfulness and Breathing
Mindful breathing is essential when it comes to managing stress. Taking deep breathes when in a stressful moment, calms your nervous system and makes you more composed and calm to handle the situation. While in recovery, practice mindful breathing to help relieve stress. Get a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes, and place your hand on your belly. Take a deep breath while feeling your hand belly getting elevated. Then breathe out quietly while feeling the air pass out. Practice this until you feel calm.
Exercise helps you maintain physical and mental fitness. During exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural hormones that make you feel good. Exercise also boosts your sleep that in turn, helps you manage stress.
Don’t keep it all to yourself. Learn to share your encounters while in recovery. Tal y=to your friends, family, or someone about what you are going through. You will be surprised how they will help you get solutions to your worries.
You can get stressed when your activities are not streamlined. Having too much to accomplish in a day can put you under pressure and stressed out. Learn to avoid unnecessary activities and focus on your recovery activities. This will make you feel less stressed and motivated to achieve your sobriety.
At Rockland Treatment, we understand how consuming addiction is and how intimidating taking the first step to a better, sober life can be. We have served clients nationwide with our residential and outpatient programs using custom-built treatment plans to help you achieve and maintain sobriety, and we are ready to do the same for you. We recognize that each person’s journey is unique, and will work with you to determine your individual needs and desires for recovery.
Your path to recovery and wellness starts with the first step. Contact us for a free assessment, and allow us to show you how our program can help you lead the life you want, unshackled by addiction, and surrounded with love.