Stress is a normal but an inevitable part of one’s life. It is one of the major factors responsible for instigating an individual to abuse alcohol, drugs or other substances and increasing the risk of developing an addiction and relapse. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) specified addiction as a chronic brain disease that inflicts serious behavioral, biological, social, emotional and physical problems that often leads to an inability to control substance abuse.
People usually calm themselves by indulging in a few puffs of a cigarette or a couple of drinks in order to relieve themselves from the stress and strains caused by increased emotional pressure. Additionally, they shift to cocaine and ecstasy with the objective of partying all night.
Indulgence in substances is often viewed as a means to escape from mental and emotional miseries. As mentioned above, several studies have also highlighted the close relationship between stress and substance abuse.
Stress triggers, such as the death of a loved one, conflicts at work or home, illness, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, overwork, major life changes like changing house or job, relationship troubles, etc., have the potential to push a person toward substance abuse. This is primarily due to the incapability of a person to cope with emotional turmoil after an irreparable loss. In fact, chronic stress has been addressed as a dominant risk factor attributed to substance abuse and addiction.
Psychiatric disorders increase risk for substance abuse
In addition to these, there are also a significant number of studies highlighting a connection between different mood disorders and substance abuse. In fact, chronic psychiatric distress has largely been accounted for the prevalence of substance abuse. The widespread prevalence of mental health issues among different demographic groups has led to the higher rates of addiction.
Apparently, highly stressful and emotionally distressing events can cause serious alterations in the brain that can typically turn into an addiction. Besides the stressful changes as mentioned above, traumatic events, such as sexual assault, maltreatment, accidents, negligence, etc., directly affects the development of the prefrontal lobe, a part of the brain that regulates higher-level thinking, impulse control and other cognitive-behavioral functions.
Possible mechanisms to curb the underlying triggers
Although it can be challenging at times to manage the stress-triggering factors, there are some ways that have the potential to help a person in governing and addressing the symptoms of substance abuse. Some of such measures are mentioned below:
- Know when to distract from overwhelming emotions: Anxious thoughts and persistent stress can build unpleasant and overwhelming emotions that may lead to the development of significant mental health issues. This, in turn, often leads to increased dependence on substances, such as alcohol, drugs, etc., for self-medication purposes. Therefore, it is essential to keep a check over such negative feelings as they can strengthen over time. Moreover, it is imperative to understand the precursors and engage the mind in other activities.
- Observe the feelings: In order to avoid falling into a vicious cycle, one should give considerable attention to his or her feelings and activities. By paying attention to them, one will be able to determine the stress-triggering factors and concentrate on where they can lead to. This also assists a person in taking control of his or her emotional, mental and physical state.
- Learn life skills: Stress and emotions are an inevitable part of one’s life, but with effective life skills these symptoms can be managed. Engagement in artistic work, yoga, certain breathing practices and others, such engagement activities can help a person in curbing his or her cravings for alcohol or drugs.
Seek holistic treatment to embrace a better life
If you or your loved one is abusing substances of any kind to alleviate potential stress or emotional pressure, it is imperative to seek professional help immediately as you might be suffering from a co-occurring disorder. Seeking solace in Alcohol or drugs to ease stress and other mental health issues can cause potential damage to the brain, which may often lead to issues like memory loss, cognitive impairment and mood swings along with changes in appetite, problems at work and loss of interest in things.
The Dual Diagnosis Helpline helps in holistic recovery through evidence-based intervention plans. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 or chat online to avail the best dual diagnosis programs or to get information pertaining to state-of-the-art dual diagnosis centers in the U.S.