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Stress and Addiction

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A substance use disorder results from the complex combination of several risk factors, such as a person’s genes, environment, and life experiences. The presence of stress in one’s life may also be a considerable risk factor.

However, chronic stress, which is long-lasting and continues over a long time, can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. Nearly every system in your body can be affected by stress. 

Prolonged stress can raise the likelihood of developing a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression, and cause headaches, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. People with chronic stress who lack appropriate coping mechanisms may use drugs or alcohol to manage stress.

Factors Which Contribute To A Person’s Risk For Addiction

Several factors contribute to an individual’s risk of developing an addiction. Genetics may be one of those risk factors. A family history of substance misuse does not guarantee that an individual will develop an addiction, but studies indicate that heredity can play a role. 

The environment is another crucial risk factor. The environment that an individual lives in might sometimes refer to the influence of others; however, research indicates that high-stress work situations can also play a role.

Some jobs are very stressful by nature. Soldiers, first responders, emergency department workers, and deep sea fishermen are just a few professions in which high stress is involved. 

Other jobs are made unpleasant by demanding bosses or unrealistic work expectations. When stress becomes a regular routine, the risk that employees will seek an escape route increases tremendously. According to research on mental health, there is a substantial correlation between stress and substance usage. A worker with a stress problem is twice as likely to misuse substances as a worker with less stress.

When work-related stress follows a person home, the temptation to use drugs or drink alcohol “escape” or calm the stress is high. Depression is also connected to chronic stress. People who feel under continual strain may lose their sense of well-being everywhere, not just at work. 

Substance misuse can be a means through which an individual seeks elusive feelings of satisfaction. People mistakenly believe that substances that momentarily improve their mood help them avoid depression, but substance addiction worsens depression.

How Addiction is Used to Cope with Stress?

Addiction often seems to attempt to cope with stress in a way that does not work out for the individual. Stress can be temporarily relieved by the drug you become addicted to, but that relief doesn’t last, so you need more of it to keep dealing with stress. And because addictions cause more stress, like the withdrawal symptoms that happen when you stop taking drugs or alcohol, you need more of the addictive substance to deal with the extra stress.

From this perspective, it is clear that the amount of stress in someone’s life makes them more likely to become addicted than others. For example, there is now a strong link between being abused as a child, whether physically, emotionally, or sexually, and becoming addicted to drugs as an adult. 

Abuse as a child is very upsetting, and it continues to be a problem as the child grows up, causing further issues with relationships and self-esteem. Not all people who were abused as children become addicted, and not all people who are addicted were abused as a child.

Stress and Alcohol

Alcohol use for stress relief is a common practice. Alcohol is ineffective as a stress reliever, despite the anecdotal evidence that drinking can help people relax. Alcohol’s physical adverse effects combined with stress symptoms may wreak havoc on the body. In addition to possible health risks, relying on alcohol every time a stressful situation arises inhibits the development of natural coping mechanisms.

Stress and Marijuana

A marijuana user is likely to experience a reduction in stress and anxiety. Although this may be true for some people, the link between marijuana and stress is more complicated than it may seem. When the effects of marijuana wear off, a rise in stress is highly probable. Many chronic marijuana users describe feeling incapable of coping with everyday stresses without using the drug.

Stress and Stimulants

When feeling overwhelmed by stress, the idea of taking drugs and gaining the energy to perform more things in less time may be enticing. People are often motivated to take stimulants, especially prescription stimulants, by the promise of lessening their workload. One of the most significant issues with the stress and stimulant relationship is the increased likelihood of addiction.

Stress and Smoking

Stress smoking is common. Many people believe that smoking cigarette relieves stress. This may appear accurate to a person who has already developed nicotine dependence, but associating smoking with stress may raise the chance of addiction in those who have not yet developed nicotine dependence. Repeatedly resorting to a substance to cope with stress, such as nicotine, creates a dangerous dependency on that substance.

Tips for Managing Stress

Learning to manage stress in a healthy manner may have significant mental and physical benefits. Below are a few helpful tips for managing stress without using substances.

Reach Out for Help

Positive and supportive relationships can serve as a stress buffer. You can reduce stress by reaching out to loved ones, joining a support group, or consulting a therapist.

Practice Mindfulness

Studies show that meditation programs can reduce stress and enhance health. Even if you do not have time for a meditation program, a few moments of mindfulness can be beneficial. Taking a moment to count your breaths is a simple way to practice mindfulness.

Practice Healthy Habits

When experiencing stress, adequate rest and a healthy diet may be the last things on your mind. However, if you are habitually exhausted and malnourished, you may lack the internal resources to deal with stress. Eating a well-balanced diet and having a good night’s sleep will help you manage stress when it arises.

Get Exercise

Exercise delivers several physical and psychological benefits, including improved stress management. Any form of exercise, such as walking, bicycling, hiking, yoga, weight training, or team sports, can be beneficial for relieving stress.

Spend Time in Nature

According to research, spending time outdoors might improve your mood and reduce stress. Spending time in nature may help you unwind and reset, whether you take a stroll through your neighborhood, go on a long hike, or sit on a bench and watch the birds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does stress affect addiction?

Like addictive substances alter the brain, stress may do the same. This implies that some people under stress may be more susceptible to developing a drug addiction or relapsing into one. Those who develop a drug addiction may already have higher stress tolerance.

Is stress a risk factor for addiction?

Stress is a well-known risk factor for both the onset of addiction and the likelihood of relapsing into addiction. Various stressors and personal factors that are predictive of drug use and addiction have been found in several population-based and epidemiological studies.

How does anxiety lead to addiction?

There are several connections between anxiety and addiction. Some people may turn to drugs or alcohol as a kind of self-medication due to their anxiety. To manage their stress, some people turn to drugs. They get relaxed and feel at ease when they consume alcohol or drugs.

What is the relationship between stress and addiction?

According to many high-profile theories, stress is a significant element in the development of addiction. According to psychological models of addiction, drug misuse is a way of coping with stress. Neurobiological theories describe how stress alters the brain’s reward, learning, and stress circuits, which can enhance drug cravings and lead to drug addiction.

How do I beat stress addiction?

Ways you can beat stress addiction:
Get into nature
Clean and organize
Herbal Supplements
Don’t sacrifice your sleep
Get food
Limit caffeine, nicotine, and sugar

The Haven is Here to Help

If you or a loved one is dealing with mental health or substance use disorders, The Haven can provide help. Our medical specialists provide evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders to aid in your recovery.

Our team of highly experienced addiction treatment professionals will collaborate with you to make a customized treatment plan. They aim to improve the quality of life for individuals battling substance abuse or mental health disorders via the provision of appropriate treatment options.

To learn more about our programs, contact us at (561) 328-8627 today!

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