What Are Psychosocial Stressors and How Do They Impact Recovery?

What Are Psychosocial Stressors and How Do They Impact Recovery?

Addiction has a tremendous impact on people’s lives, especially on their mental and physical well-being. Long after they stop using drugs, they are likely to be triggered by current events or people that send them back to the past. These memories result in the brain’s reward system thinking about drugs or substances and craving those in recovery. Psychosocial stressors can impact a person’s sense of balance in recovery, including stress. Find out how it impacts recovery and how to find support for triggers.

Prefrontal Cortex

The brain is inextricably linked to substance abuse addiction and dependence. The prefrontal cortex remembers how the reward pathway worked in the brain and looks for other ways to create this pleasurable response. This decreases anxiety or stress the person feels and may help in the fight against triggers and cravings. Even after a person recovers from withdrawal symptoms, there may be memories which trigger a chance of relapse.


The role of dopamine in addiction is key to understanding how the brain and body crave drugs and alcohol. Glutamate tells the brain about the drug and how pleasurable it is. This makes the pleasure and reward-seeking part of the brain wants more of it, which creates this loop of desire for the drug. Sobriety is made more difficult because the brain has a hard time letting go of the ideas it has around addiction and recovery. A change in this concept affects a person’s well-being and ability to deal with stress and negative emotions.

Coping with Change

Psychosocial stress is anything that threatens your well-being or acceptance with others. It may be a stress response felt in the body that taxes everything in the system, making it difficult to cope. With this stress comes hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and dopamine, which change how the body responds to stress in the environment. If you want to learn how to manage the mental and physical aspects of psychosocial stressors, you might consider:

  • Conflict resolution training: looking at opportunities to resolve conflict when the brain and body are on high alert. You can change what you bring to a situation and model healthy behavior for yourself and others
  • Find supportive community: release anyone or anything that does not support you. Spend time with those who make your life easier and stop some of the drama
  • Look for new horizons: if you are trying to change your body’s response to stress, look for new stress management techniques and strategies that focus on mindfulness, peace, and calming

The key to any change in life is to look for opportunities to grow and shift perspective. If something is not working, try to change it first in the mind, then the body will likely follow. So much of stress is in the head (thoughts corresponding to feelings). Once you can get a handle on how you feel about someone or something, you are more likely to get a handle on how to navigate it next time it happens or possibly learn to avoid it next time.

Recovery is a journey of learning more about yourself and others in the world. You may not be sure what exactly you are doing at any given moment but you are able to change how you respond to triggers and cravings with the right support. We can give you the right space and time to navigate recovery in a healing, healthy way that offers hope for the future. . Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.