Drug abuse happens for many reasons, ranging from genetic predispositions to environment to life-related stresses. However, stress in and of itself can be enough to lead to substance abuse, drug addiction or relapse after rehabilitation. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), studies have found the following factors to be true when it comes to drug abuse and stress:
- Individuals who are exposed to stress are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and more likely to relapse after addiction treatment.
- Research has shown a correlation between neurocircuits that respond to stress and those that respond to drugs.
- Animal studies have shown that stress induces relapse of alcohol, heroin, cocaine and nicotine self-administration.
- Research has shown that former cocaine abusers currently in treatment show a significant increase in cocaine cravings when exposed to personal stress.
Learning how to cope with the daily stresses in life, especially work stress, is a vitally important step in becoming drug-free.
Below are some strategies for managing stress:
Join an Organization and Give Back – Giving back to others is a cathartic way to take your mind off of your own issues and stresses. Joining an organization that gives back to others, like a church or civic group, is a great idea. The major benefit of giving back is to focus your energy outward, towards others, instead of inward on your own stresses. Helping those in need can give you a great sense of achievement while simultaneously reducing your stress levels.
Add Physical Exercise Into Your Routine – According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of exercise go above and beyond keeping your body in good shape. Physical exercise releases endorphins, also known as your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. In addition, regular exercise also lowers anxiety and reduces symptoms of depression.
Of course, developing an exercise regimen does not mean you have to enter the next “iron man” competition. It simply means you need to work physical movement into your daily life. A great way ensure that your stress level doesn’t get too high during your workday is by enjoying a quick walk during your lunch break or creating a workout schedule for the afternoons or evenings. There are so many exercise options out there today that you can be sure to find something that works for you.
Consider a Career Change – In some cases, the stress that comes as a result of your job is simply not worth the money that comes from the career. Sometimes a change needs to be made. If you are in a job situation that is stressing you out and leading you to consider drugs as a way to cope, you may want to start looking for something else. No job is worth relapsing.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. However, you can reduce the amount of stress you experience when you implement the tips listed above.