Unfortunately when it comes to addiction, there are several risk factors. While many people know that both genetics and mental health conditions can play a role in addiction, many are unaware of the impact that stress can have on drug use. Everyone experiences stress from time to time and everyone deals with stress differently. Whether you’re in the middle of a major life change, are majorly overworked at home and work, or otherwise, stress can increase your risk of turning to drug use as a means of coping. Read on to learn more about how stress can lead to an increase in drug use, as well as healthy alternative coping skills to manage stress.

What Causes Stress?

There are several things in life that can leave a person feeling stressed. Stressful events include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Conflict with your loved ones
  • Breaking up with your significant other
  • The death of a loved one
  • Legal problems
  • Money problems
  • Serious Illness
  • Divorce
  • Heavy workload
  • Major life changes, such as changing jobs or moving
  • Experiencing abuse, discrimination, or hate

How Does Stress Increase the Risk of Drug Use?

Everybody experiences stress in their life at some point. When a person experiences stress, the brain releases chemicals to signal the body’s stress response. While some of these chemicals, such as serotonin, are beneficial for a person’s mental health, others, such as cortisol, can leave the individual tired and agitated.

When high levels of cortisol are continuously flowing to the brain, this can cause anxiety and depression to develop. This can lead to self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, food, or other vices. If the individual uses their vice of choice for a long enough period of time, they can become addicted.

Research has also found that chronic stress leads to a decrease in gray matter volume in the region of the brain associated with cognitive control and stress regulation. Because of this, individuals who are stressed are more prone to give into their impulses like smoking or drug use to cope with daily stress.

What Are Some Alternative Ways to Deal with Stress?

While many individuals choose drugs and alcohol as a way to deal with stress, they only provide temporary help numbing the emotions associated with stress, such as anxiety and depression. Luckily, there are plenty of easy and healthy ways to cope with stress.

If you find yourself dealing with a lot of stress in your life, try out some of these helpful coping skills:

  • Meditation
  • Daily exercise, such as walking your dog or going to the gym
  • Talking to someone you trust, such as a friend or a family member
  • Talk to a therapist
  • Use a journal to record what you are feeling
  • Make sure to eat a healthy diet
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Make time for your hobbies

Start Your Road to Recovery Today

If you still aren’t sure about how the recovery process works, no need to worry. Here at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center, we understand how nerve-wracking or intimidating it can be to start your addiction recovery journey and our team of professionals is here to help! Our recovery centers offer several different recovery programs to choose from, including residential treatment, professionals program, medical detox, intensive outpatient treatment, relapse track, 3-day evaluation, and a family program. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance addiction, call our office today at 318-728-2970!