Stress is the number one trigger for relapse in both primary mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Interestingly, the brain likes stress. The brain is more prone to notice and adapt to negativity in its environment than it is positivity. Many people who learn to cope with stress in negative ways create reward pathways in their brains which change how they relate to stress. Since the brain is prone to noticing stress, someone who isn’t able to cope with it will feel it more strongly. Mental illnesses thwart the ability to cope with stress, without the right tools and treatments. Recovery, on the other hand, strengthen the brain and enforce new neural pathways which help the brain respond to stress differently.
Treatment and therapy for recovery focuses heavily on stress reduction and learning to cope with stress when it arises. Recovery is not the absence of stress. Unfortunately, life continues to happen on life’s terms, which often involves the occasional high amount of stress. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with stresses, big and small, without having to turn to harmful behaviors like substance abuse, self-harm, hurting others, or causing more stress.
Learn To Assess Your Risks
Your triggers are your risks for relapse. You have to anticipate that from time to time, something will happen within the realm of what triggers your brain to crave adverse behaviors to cope. Instead of pretending they never happen, it is important to learn what they are and prepare for them. Rather than feeling completely surprised and caught off guard, you will feel prepared as if it were meant to happen.
Prepare To Cope With Your Triggers
Being prepared for the unexpected might sound easier said than done. However, it is much of the philosophy behind mindfulness and awareness. By being aware, you have the ability to notice what is going on around you in a mindful way. You aren’t necessarily hypervigilant, but you aren’t ignorant to yourself or your surroundings. Throughout the treatment process, you will work in groups and with your individual therapist to create relapse prevention plans. Mindfulness based stress reduction techniques can help you apply your recovery in an instant.
Find Zen In The Chaos
At that moment when your trigger flares up in front of you and your brain defaults to one of your proven techniques for managing it, there is a moment of zen. You know what to do, you know how to handle your stress, and you know the moment will pass. Keeping in mind the clarity you are developing for yourself is helpful in maintaining composure and staying sober.
Avalon Malibu provides trusted treatment programs for both substance use disorders and primary mental health disorders. Your life will become manageable again. For a confidential assessment and more information on our programs, call 1 888-958-7511.