Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Some, perhaps more than others. Stress can be a trigger for substance use or addiction and can result in relapse. As a result, stress management is imperative during treatment and throughout recovery.
Stressors can vary from person to person. A few common stressors could include finances, employment, difficulty in relationships, family conflict, and more. Many encounter situational stressors throughout their lifetime, which may be temporary, such as job loss or health issues. These temporary sources of tension can be just as likely, if not more likely, to induce substance use or trigger addiction than the more consistent stressors mentioned above.
How Stress Can Lead to Addiction
When someone is feeling stressed, it can be common to seek reprieve from alcohol or other substances. Counting down the minutes to five o’clock after a difficult work day is not exactly a rare occurrence. Sometimes, however, the usual one or two drinks can turn into more as stress increases.
As intake increases, so does tolerance. This leads to more consumption or seeking out new substances for a stronger effect. Soon, a habit can be formed. From here, things can easily spiral out of control, leading to drug or alcohol addiction. While substance abuse can begin with experimentation or even by accident, stress plays a major role in the development of addiction for many.
Some common stressors that may lead to substance abuse can include:
- Financial difficulties
- Job loss
- Loss of a loved one
- Relationship hardships
- Family conflict
- Health complications
Stress During Treatment
As someone makes the decision to seek help for their addiction, the transition can be difficult. Leaving behind a lifestyle that, while risky, expensive, and unhealthy, was in some ways temporarily pleasing can be disheartening. Cutting ties with your old “friends,” hang-out spots, and activities can leave you feeling empty and alone. Filling this void with new routines, hobbies, and positive influences is key.
Exercise has been proven time and time again to reduce stress. Activities such as walking, high-intensity interval training, yoga, and even swimming have been shown to have positive effects on mental health. The type of activity you choose is up to your preference. What matters most is moving your body enough to reduce your body’s stress hormones, which can be done in as little as 30 minutes per day.
Building positive relationships and connecting with others during treatment can be an excellent outlet, as well. Hearing the stories of others going through similar experiences can be very motivating and offers a sense of community. Feeling connected and supported can be a huge stress relief during this time.
Developing or improving your relationship with God or a higher power during treatment can also help reduce stress. Time spent in daily prayer or reading scripture can provide hope and encouragement. Allowing God to help carry the weight of your stressors can help reduce their impact and allow for more focus to be put on taking steps toward recovery.
Some excellent options for healthy habits and activities during treatment can include:
- Group therapy
Incorporating some of the above-mentioned activities during treatment can help you fill your day with positive, meaningful ways to reduce stress and improve overall health.
Stress During Recovery
Stress can be a huge contributor to relapse for those in recovery. Even small inconveniences or unexpected challenges can pose a risk of slipping up. By staying engaged through alumni programs and utilizing tools and strategies learned while in treatment, navigating these difficult situations throughout recovery successfully is possible.
As you transition from treatment to recovery, it is crucial to continue to implement the routines and habits formed into your new lifestyle. For instance, meditating daily during treatment should be continued in recovery. Exercise routines established should remain consistent. Therapy and group meetings should be prioritized. Perhaps most importantly, communication with your sponsor and support system must continue.
Staying connected and involved in therapy and groups during recovery can be very helpful in managing stress. Sharing your struggles with others who can empathize and perhaps offer advice can be very beneficial. Reaching out to your sponsor in times of need is always advised, especially when you may feel tempted.
By incorporating these positive activities into life beyond treatment, managing stress is possible and much more probable. Just as entering into treatment was a big transition, so is exiting treatment. It can take a while to adapt to a new, sober lifestyle. Recognizing your triggers, maintaining healthy habits, using tools and coping strategies learned during treatment, and staying connected can help you manage your stress and stay on track.
Coping with stress during treatment and throughout recovery can be tough. It is important to develop healthy habits and routines to ensure you are able to keep stress at a minimum and reduce the chances of relapse. Stress can contribute to addiction and relapse, making these coping techniques critical. At Renaissance Ranch, we offer various activities and programs to help you manage and reduce stress during treatment and throughout your recovery journey. A few examples of our offerings include group therapy sessions, exercise classes, and spiritual coaching. Let us create a treatment plan tailored to your needs to help you regain control of your life and future. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we would love to help. Pick up the phone and give Renaissance Ranch a call today at (801) 308-8898.