Stress is a common factor that causes individuals to engage in substance abuse behavior. While many people cope with stress in a variety of different ways, there is a subset of people who often turn to alcohol or drugs for relief. This can lead to a devastating cycle as people continue to engage in substance abuse every time stress occurs.
Stress is a common occurrence for everyone. In many cases, stress is motivating and positive. Stress is what helps keep people focused and engaged. There is also negative stress that occurs when someone feels unnecessarily overwhelmed or when someone encounters a traumatic experience. This type of stress is unhealthy and is what is commonly associated with substance abuse.
Does Stress Cause Addiction?
Stress is a major risk factor that contributes to developing an addiction. This risk will increase if someone experiences stress at a younger age or encounter chronic stress at any point in their lives. In fact, stress is commonly the reason that individuals refuse to seek addiction recovery and can also relapse for those in active recovery.
For those who are actively struggling with addiction, stress can actually intensify the addiction. This is because stress creates powerful cravings. In addition, when someone is under a lot of stress, they are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope. This can create a vicious cycle in which stress leads to addiction, and addiction then leads to more stress.
It’s important to understand how stress affects your body. When you experience stress, your body goes into “fight-or-flight” mode. This is an evolutionary response that helped our ancestors survive in dangerous situations. In today’s world, we experience stressors that are not life-threatening, but our bodies still react as if they are. This can lead to a number of physical symptoms, including:
- Chest pain
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Upset stomach
Over time, chronic stress can take a toll on your physical health. It can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other serious health conditions. While stress can be a short-term problem, chronic stress can lead to long-term health problems.
When you experience stress, your brain releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is sometimes referred to as the “stress hormone” because it helps your body respond to stressors. At normal levels, cortisol is essential for good health. It helps regulate blood sugar levels, metabolism, and immunity. Cortisol also plays a role in learning and memory.
However, when you have too much cortisol in your system, it can lead to problems. High levels of cortisol have been linked to anxiety, depression, weight gain, and other health issues.
Cortisone is a synthetic form of cortisol that is sometimes used to treat inflammation. When used in high doses, it can also be helpful in treating stress-related disorders like anxiety and depression.
Substance Abuse and the Affects on Stress
Substance abuse can cause stress and stress can cause substance abuse. This is referred to as a two-way relationship since either one could be the cause or effect. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), stress is one of the main reasons people turn to drugs and alcohol.
When people are under a lot of stress, they may feel like they need a way to escape or cope with their problems. This is where drugs and alcohol come in. People may use substances as a way to numb their emotions and avoid their stressors.
However, substance abuse can also lead to stress. The NIDA reports that using drugs can actually increase levels of stress hormones like cortisol in the body. Additionally, drug use can lead to problems at work, school, or home which can all cause stress.
What Is Stress Drinking?
Stress drinking is defined as using alcohol to cope with stress. It is different from social drinking because the goal is not to enjoy the taste or effects of alcohol, but rather to use it as a way to escape stress.
People who stress drink are more likely to develop alcoholism. This is because stress drinking can lead to a tolerance for alcohol. This means that people will need to drink more and more alcohol in order to get the same numbing effect. Additionally, stress drinking can lead to withdrawal symptoms when someone stops using alcohol. These symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, and tremors.
Ways to Manage Stress
Finding healthy ways to cope with stress is essential in steering clear of any substance use behaviors. As an added benefit, healthy coping mechanisms can also help improve your overall health in wellness by improving your mental health and physical fitness.
Research shows that regular exercise is an excellent stress reliever. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. It also helps to improve sleep, which can be negatively affected by stress.
Yoga is a form of exercise that has been shown to help reduce stress. Yoga focuses on breathing and holding various postures. The deep breathing involved in yoga can help to relax the body and clear the mind. Additionally, the physical postures can help to stretch and strengthen the body.
Eating a healthy diet is another way to reduce stress. Eating foods that are high in vitamins and minerals can help to improve your mood and energy levels. Additionally, avoiding processed foods and excessive amounts of caffeine can help to keep stress levels down.
Having a strong support network is crucial for stress management. Family and friends can provide emotional support when you are feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, they can offer practical assistance with child care or other responsibilities. Joining a support group or participating in therapy can also be helpful.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be therapeutic. It can help you to identify stressors and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Additionally, reflecting on your progress can boost your self-esteem and help you to feel more in control of your stress.
There are many different relaxation techniques that you can practice to help reduce stress. Some popular options include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery. Meditation is another stress-reducing activity that involves focusing on breath work and clearing the mind of any thoughts or worries. Meditation has been shown to help improve focus, concentration, and overall mental well-being.
Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. When you’re tired, your body is less able to cope with stress. Getting enough sleep can help improve your mood and increase your energy levels. Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break from whatever is causing stress. If you can, step away from the situation entirely. Go for a walk, listen to music, or read a book. Taking a few minutes to yourself can help clear your head and give you the strength to deal with whatever is causing stress.
Is Stress Considered A Mental Illness?
Stress can be the symptom of many mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, stress by itself is not considered a mental illness. Chronic stress can increase a person’s risk of developing a mental health condition. It’s important to determine if the stress you’re feeling is natural or if it’s the symptom of something greater. Talking to a mental health professional can help you determine the differences.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Casco Bay
Casco Bay offers comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment for stress-related mental disorders such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression. Our team of professionals will work with you to create a customized treatment plan that meets your unique needs. We offer a variety of programs and therapies that can help you manage stress and promote healing. Contact us today to learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment program.
Therapy to Help Manage Stress
Outpatient therapy can help you find ways to cope with chronic stress or stress-related mental health disorders. Our therapists can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms, identify stressors, and manage your symptoms.
We offer a variety of therapy modalities, including:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction
If you’re not sure what exactly may be causing your stress or stress-related substance use disorder, therapy can help you uncover those issues. Working with a therapist is an extremely effective way to develop long-term skills to manage stress. Even if your stress is not mental health related it can still lead to destructive behaviors. Gaining perspective from a mental health professional can lead to a higher level of understanding of how your stress is affecting you.
Contact Casco Bay Today for Recovery from Stress and Addiction!
Stress and addiction are a complicated combination. Stress can lead to addiction, or intensify addiction that already exists. There are many issues associated with stress and addiction, but there are also many possible solutions to treat and manage both conditions. If stress is impacting your day-to-day life, it may be time to seek professional help. If you’re struggling with addiction, a substance abuse counselor can help you find treatment options and support groups.
Casco Bay Recovery can help those who are struggling with stress and addiction. We offer a variety of treatment options that are tailored to each individual’s needs. Our experienced staff is here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you heal.