Stress and Substance Abuse: The Connection and Tips for Getting Help

February 09, 2016

Stress…it’s one of those unavoidable realities of life. Each of us encounters circumstances that can trigger stress. There are times when the stress is mild, like when you’re tied up in traffic or overwhelmed by an upcoming deadline at work. However, there are times when stress can be severe and prolonged, such as when dealing with the loss of income or a loved one.

As common as stress is, not everyone handles it the same. There are those of us that can get through stressful circumstances without breaking a sweat. However, there are others who feel so overwhelmed and defeated that they will do anything just to feel at peace – including abuse substances like drugs and alcohol.


Chronic Stress

Though some stress is normal, if you’re experiencing prolonged periods of stress, it can begin to wreak havoc on the body physically and mentally. Stress and the chemicals the body releases in response to stress are only supposed to be felt for short periods of time. When the body is under an extreme amount of stress for a long period of time it is best defined as chronic stress.

Some of the consequences of chronic stress would include:

·  Weakened immune system

·  Fatigue

·  Depression

·  Digestive issues

·  Substance abuse (Self medication)

Self-Medicating to Relieve Stress

No one wants to feel stressed for a prolonged period of time. Though there are plenty of ways to relieve stress, some take another route known as self-medicating. This is simply when an individual turns to alcohol or drugs as a means to mask the feelings of stress. Since alcohol acts as a depressant, it generates a temporary calming feeling on the body. Obviously, when the person feels that their stress is gone they continue to use the substances over and over again.

The issue with self-medicating is that it can quickly lead to addiction. If you or someone you know has recently been utilizing drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain of stress, it may be beneficial to seek help. Rehab facilities such as Sandy’s Place offer a peaceful oasis for you to learn how to manage your stress more effectively while also kicking a dangerous bad habit of self-medicating.


Tips for Managing Stress

Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol is never an effective solution for getting rid of your stress. It may provide temporary relief, but in the long run the consequences of addiction will only generate more stress. To take a more positive and holistic approach to relieving stress, here are some tips you might follow:

Take a Break – If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the best thing you can do is take a break. Whether it’s scheduling some vacation time from the job or asking the sitter to take care of the kids, do what you can to simply get away from the stress and do something you enjoy.

MeditateMeditation is not just for monks. It can actually be very beneficial for relieving stress and also finding clarity and peace of mind. Take 15 minutes or so out of your day, find a secluded area and meditate. There are easy breathing techniques that can help you to get the full experience of meditation. Doing this on the daily basis should certainly bring those stress levels down.

Exercise – Who would have thought that a little physical activity could actually relieve stress? Exercise helps to improve your overall health and sense of being. However, it is also beneficial in increasing the production of endorphins which are responsible for sending signals to the “feel good” center of your brain.

Get Help – Sometimes the reason for our stress is that we’ve simply bitten off more than we can chew. If you’re overwhelmed with responsibility, look to others to assist you by taking some of the load off. Getting help might also mean speaking with a counselor if you’re struggling mentally. A therapist can help you in pinpointing the underlying triggers for your stress so that you can learn how to avoid or cope with them easier. No matter where you are, there are sure to be a number of good options for professionals that you can talk to. Based in London? Check out this helpful resource for psychologist London to start your treatment as soon as possible.

Stress is certainly unavoidable at times, but how you handle it makes all the difference in the world. If you’ve been self-medicating as a means to “calm down” after a stressful situation or you’ve been stressed for a long period of time, reach out to professionals for assistance. Otherwise, follow the above mentioned tips to get find a little peace in the midst of the stress.