Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms in Recovery

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unhealthy coping

While many people associate addiction recovery with physical wellness, the reality is that our day-to-day lives are experienced through our perceptions and how we’re able to handle difficult thoughts, feelings, and situations. When bad moments occur, we can experience several responses, including an increase in blood pressure, anxiety, difficulty focusing, shaking, and increased feelings of sadness, anger and/or irritability. If we don’t have healthy coping mechanisms, we may even do something that we later come to regret. These are experiences that everyone has, not solely those in addiction recovery. However, for those that are in recovery, it’s smart to start picking up on some healthy coping mechanisms. Doing so can improve quality of life, as well as prevent eventual relapse to substance use. 


Unhealthy Coping

Caffeine is one of the many unhealthy coping mechanisms that people tend to use when they’re having a bad day or are simply stressed. While caffeine may distract you from the issue at hand for a little while, it’s negative effects will only perpetuate the issue. For example, consuming high doses of caffeine throughout the day tends to create sleep disturbances at night. Lack of adequate sleep decreases the mental and emotional capacity to deal with daily stressors, in turn. Additionally, since caffeine is a stimulant, it only amplifies feelings of stress and anxiety.


Turning to unhealthy, or “junk” food is another common go-to coping mechanism for people who are experiencing stress and/or anxiety. Unfortunately, processed foods and sugar often cause health problems, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Additionally, the food you eat directly affects your gut health, which corresponds closely to mental wellbeing. Therefore, while it may seem tempting to turn to junk food for comfort, the relief is only temporary, creating long term problems that often fuel the unhealthy coping cycle. 


Lastly, cigarettes can feel like a huge stress reliever for many. However, previous research shows that cigarette use is a major cause of death throughout the United States. In addition to this, it harms virtually every organ in the body. Not to mention, nicotine is highly addictive. With all of these unhealthy coping mechanisms, it’s no wonder that the negative cycle of substance abuse and poor mind, body and spirit connections exist!


Learning to Practice Healthy Coping Behaviors

Years of substance abuse is often a result of insufficient coping mechanisms. Upon entering recovery, it makes sense that people turn to things like caffeine, junk food, and cigarettes to deal with life’s stressors, as they have yet to learn healthy methods of coping. However, it is important to bring attention to these habits once stability is reached in your recovery program, as the maintenance of long term sobriety is greatly reliant on the condition of your mind, body, and spirit. As such, seeking a holistic approach to treatment can make all the difference. At Avalon Malibu, we offer a wide range of therapeutic modalities that address mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Our professionals are committed to working with you towards a treatment plan that best suits your unique needs. If you are ready to make a change, reach out today for a consultation, at 844-857-5992.

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