Abusing Substances to Avoid Stress: The Path to Addiction

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Abusing Substances to Avoid Stress: The Path to Addiction

Stress is uncomfortable and it’s often hard to deal with if we’re not aware of healthy coping strategies. For many in addiction recovery, stress is something that sparked substance abuse, to begin with. Therefore, if proper stress management is lacking, it’s likely you will return to substance abuse to relieve the pressure. 


How Stress Affects the Body 

Hundreds of studies have been conducted and have shown that stress affects the entire body in many different ways. You may experience headaches, feelings of despair, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating and more. Unfortunately, these experiences often compound the stress leaving you in worse shape than you were initially. Heart palpitations and a rise in blood pressure as a result of stress can make it all-the-more-easy to suffer from a heart attack, and stomachaches leave the immune system feeling weak. Stress increases the risk of diabetes and can make it harder to maintain intimate relationships. If we don’t practice healthy stress management, a lot can go wrong.


Using Substances to Cope With Stress

The reality is that many people grow up without learning healthy coping mechanisms for difficult emotions and experiences like stress. Unfortunately, without healthy coping mechanisms, you’re bound to start employing alternative strategies that often prove to be quite dangerous and debilitating. For those who were never taught how to deal with stress, the allure of instant relief through substance use is understandable. Additionally, many people are raised in environments where substances are used to solve problems, and therefore learn to do the same in their own lives. Similarly, when friends and/or coworkers are easing stress by drinking at the bar, it becomes tempting to take part in these behavioral patterns, too.


Avoidance Coping Leads to Abuse 

Avoidance coping occurs when our behavior is motivated by the need to avoid thinking or dealing with something that feels very unsettling. While using substances makes avoidance easier, in the long run, it intensifies the stress. Serving as a bandaid solution, substance use only drowns out the issue, rather than addressing it head-on. Eventually, the effects ware off and the feelings and problems return and pile up, ultimately perpetuating the cycle of abuse. 


If you find yourself struggling to manage stress, and leaning on substances, as a result, remember that you are not alone. Countless people all over the world have been where you are. Recovery may seem overwhelming, but it is possible. At Avalon Malibu, we are here to help. We have professionals working around the clock to offer you the care and resources you need to live a happy and healthy life. Call us for a consultation today at 844-857-5992.

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