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Stress: How it Triggers Substance Abuse and Relapse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stress triggers substance abuse and relapse. Chronic stress can easily trigger drug addiction. When someone uses a drug, it gives him or her relief from stress. This relief is temporary and is often causes the stress to get worse over time. Unfortunately, this temporary relief is what later becomes an addiction to drugs or alcohol. It is important to understand what stress is and how it triggers substance abuse.

What is Stress?

Stress is a reaction to adverse events, circumstances, or issues. It is a state of tension or an emotional reaction to things that are difficult. Many people have difficulty defining exactly what stress is because it is different for each person. One person may be stressed by driving in traffic while another might find traffic fine but be stressed by school or work. Everyone has different stressors in their life. How they deal with those stressors becomes an important question when those stressors become too much for their normal coping mechanisms to handle.

What are the Primary Causes of Stress?

Triggers Substance Abuse

Expectations and pressures at work are one of the main causes of stress.

There are hundreds of causes of stress. Stress is nothing new for most people but it affects each person differently. The most common things that trigger stress or stressful reactions are:

  • Employment or the workplace
  • Death of someone you care about
  • Marriage or divorce
  • Children or pregnancy
  • Conflict at home, at work, or in general
  • Relationships
  • Drastic world events
  • Family issue or events
  • Anything that causes anger or a fight or flight response

These are not all of the stressors, just some very common ones. Stress is not just about unhappy experiences, happy experiences can trigger stress as well. The birth of a child or a marriage are two happy but stressful events.

How Stress Triggers Substance Abuse and Relapse

Stress triggers substance abuse and relapse by giving people a way to cope with the situation. Most drugs make you feel good, calm, relaxed, confident, or happy. This is the reason why people use them. When you start to use drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, the reward is almost immediate. This programs your brain to crave the drug or alcohol when you become stressed.

Soon your brain learns to turn to the drugs or alcohol every time you encounter a stressful situation. Most people who know how to cope with stress turn to healthy stress relieving mechanisms. A few of these mechanisms are:

  • Hobbies
  • Therapy
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation
  • Yoga

When you use drugs and alcohol, the only thing that your brain learns to turn to is the drugs and alcohol. You cannot stop using them because stopping causes withdrawal and adds to the stress.

Dual Diagnosis and the Importance of Treating Co-existing Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

Finding a Treatment Center that Helps you Deal with Addiction, Relapse, and Stress

Fortunately, there are treatment centers that can teach you good coping mechanisms and treat your drug addiction at the same time. To find one all you have to do is call 1-800-683-3270.

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