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Understanding Stress and Addiction


Research shows that stress is among the main risk factors for drug addiction. Stress is a physical and emotional response to events perceived to exceed an individual’s adaptive capacity. Stress can alter your brain and leave you susceptible to drug abuse. Drugs stimulate the brain’s reward center to provide a level of solace. Anytime you feel stressed, the brain remembers that reward and seeks it out. This repeated behavior eventually leads to addiction. Today, stress and addiction are prevalent due to the ever-increasing stressors such as work and relationship problems. The good news is that you can reach out to the best therapists at the rehab center in Florida to get help on how to manage stress and addiction.

How to Distinguish Between Acute and Chronic Stress

Acute stress is short term stress that results from unpredictable events, leaving you with a poor sense of control. Any kind of stress you suffer for a short time, for instance, arguments with your spouse, traffic jam, or having a tough day at work can amount to acute stress. It is easy to manage acute stress as the stress hormones released help your mind to deal with the situation. However, chronic stress is intense and can cause severe damages to your mind and body. This kind of stress results from continued exposure to events that trigger the release of stress hormones. Pain and suffering caused by situations such as losing a loved one or unemployment can also cause chronic stress. Some of the symptoms of chronic stress include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Isolation
  • Moodiness
  • Sleeping problems
  • Low self-esteem

Since the body is not good at handling chronic stress, poor stress management can lead to drug abuse as a coping mechanism, which eventually leads to addiction.

What Is the Link Between Stress and Addiction?

Drugs facilitate changes in brain chemistry by activating your brain’s chemical messengers. Over time, a brain that is exposed to certain chemical changes loses the ability to cope with any kind of stress. Addiction is a mental condition that develops through the compulsive use of drugs despite harmful consequences. When you become stressed, your brain releases stress hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol can damage parts of your mind related to memory and learning, which are the same regions impacted by drug abuse. Apart from creating a craving for drugs, your brain also sets a biochemical response to drugs. At this point, both chronic and short-term stress can trigger a desire for drugs. For instance, having a drink after a tough day at work becomes an automatic response to any stressful event. You lose the natural ability to process emotions and deal with stressful situations.

What Are the Treatment Options for Stress and Addiction?

Entering an addiction treatment program in Florida can help you avoid potential health problems, some of which can be permanent. The best way to begin treatment for stress and addiction is to use a dual diagnosis approach. Your therapist addresses your potential stressors while treating any co-occurring mental illness. Dual diagnosis also involves using a combination of medication and therapy services to alleviate your fear of facing addiction. Health professionals can also recommend some aspects of stress management such as group therapy to help relax your mind during the recovery process. Other treatment options for stress and addiction available in Florida include:

  • Management of trauma
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Alcohol detox centers
  • Opiate detox centers
  • Treatment of co-occurring disorders
  • Sober homes program

Seek Help at Recovery Bay Center Today

Is your stress level leading you to substance abuse? Contact Recovery Bay Center today at 833.991.2955 to discuss better options for addiction and stress management. Our professionals are ready to provide you with the best skills and tools to help you overcome stress and addiction.