Stress is a normal part of life for people who have addictions. These individuals often experience high levels of fatigue, anxiety, and depression when not using substances or gambling. They may also have other health-related problems that interfere with their addiction recovery efforts, such as illnesses and mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders. In this article, learn about common sources of stress in people who have addictions and strategies for managing stress and addiction.
Common Sources of Stress in People Who Have Addictions
Stressors can be either internal or external. An internal stressor is defined as any factor that provokes feelings of stress, such as a difficult emotion, negative self-talk, or a traumatic thought pattern. An external stressor is defined as anything in the environment that creates feelings of stress, such as life circumstances and events you encounter every day.
Some common external stressors in people with addictions are:
- Financial problems- This is a big one for addictions, especially when long-term treatment is not available. Without control behaviors, relapse is a real possibility, and you have to be prepared to support yourself in a very short time.
- Relationships- These relationships can be complicated and often emotionally abusive. They can also bring up painful memories of your past drug or alcohol use struggles. They can also be unpredictable and cause anxiety for you as the addict and your loved ones.
- Work/school stress- Work and school can be difficult for people with addictions because employers and professors often don’t understand the complexities around addiction. People may be dealing with dizziness, nausea, or headaches from withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms make it very difficult to concentrate on a task, and you may find yourself making mistakes or avoiding work.
- Family issues- Family conflicts are another common external stressor for people who have addictions. This conflict can take many forms, such as excessive fighting or lack of communication amongst family members.
- Crises- This is any unexpected event that causes stress, such as a death in the family or a natural disaster.
- Health problems- Individuals with addictions often suffer from other health problems that contribute to their stress levels. This group’s most common health problems are mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders and depression, and physical illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and diabetes.
A person with an addiction might also be under increased stress if they have other mental health conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia. Individuals who have experienced an abusive childhood are also more likely to experience high-stress levels later in life.
Strategies for Managing Stress Along with Addictions
A person who has a substance abuse problem or an addiction will experience stress that can interfere with recovery efforts. To manage stress and prevent relapse, here are some general strategies for dealing with stress:
- Spend time in nature- When the mind and body are flooded with the feel-good endorphins that occur when you are in nature, it can help reduce stress.
- Practice meditation or meditation- Simply by sitting quietly, practicing mindfulness, or practicing a body scan, you can temporarily reduce stress. You can do these activities alone or with a group.
- Take care of yourself physically- You can take a walk or take a hot bath when you need relief from your stress level.
- Get enough sleep- When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s much more difficult to cope with your stress levels.
- Be honest with yourself and others- To deal with your stress, you have to be able to identify it. The more information you have about what is causing your stress, the more successful you will overcome it.
- Talk to a friend or counselor- One of the best ways to manage stress is to talk about your feelings. It’s easier to permit yourself to deal with your stress when you have a therapist or close friend to confide in.
- Seek professional treatment- If you are struggling with stress, you must receive professional help from a mental health care provider. Your doctor or counselor can help you learn strategies for managing stress and avoiding relapse.
- Get involved in activities- You must get involved in activities that help you feel good about yourself. These activities can be very broad, such as spending time at the zoo with your family or participating in a marathon for charity. Whatever makes you happy is a positive way to help manage stress and prevent relapse.
In conclusion, stress is common in people who have addictions, and both internal and external stressors can contribute to relapse. Try the strategies above to manage stress along with your addiction.
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