Stress may be a normal part of life, but it can be particularly troublesome and even dangerous in recovery. Financial and health concerns, as well as family and relationship conflicts, are just a few of the stressors that you will likely deal with in recovery, and they can lead to relapse if you are not taking care of yourself.
Medical specialists with the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) believe that stress is one of the leading causes of relapse. Research shows that the brain of a person with a substance use disorder is more sensitive to stress, which may explain why returning to drugs or alcohol is an attractive choice. When you enter addiction recovery, there are several ways that you can manage stress and avoid relapse.
Learn to Identify Stress
If you are accustomed to masking your feelings with drugs or alcohol, you may have no idea whether or not you are feeling stressed. Some of the typical signs of stress include:
- Stomach issues
- Racing thoughts
- Anger or irritability
- Over- or undereating
- Memory issues
- Lack of focus
Identify Potential Sources of Stress
Now that you know you are stressed, what is causing the problem? Can you define a particular person, place, or situation that is producing these feelings? If you are unsure, some of the ways that you can find out include speaking with a trusted friend and keeping a journal to track your stressors.
Learn Some Stress Management Techniques
Stress is sometimes an unavoidable biological response to certain conditions or people, such as your boss or a crowded elevator. When you learn to predict these situations, you may have a bit more control over your emotions. Depending on the scenario, you can use the 4 A’s of stress management: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.
- Avoid. If you can, avoid any unnecessary stressors. Do not hang out with people who stress you out and learn how to say “no” to stressful situations.
- Alter. If you do find yourself in a stressful environment or situation, find a way to change it quickly.
- Adapt. When there are stressors that you cannot change, adapt by changing the way you look at or approach them.
- Accept. Sometimes you just have to “accept the things you cannot change,” and you may find less stress in giving up the fight when you cease trying to control what is beyond your influence.
Other Ways to Beat Stress in Addiction Recovery
Proper self-care is another way that you can pare down the stress levels in recovery. If you are not taking good care of your body and mind, there is a good chance that they will not take care of you. Some of the ways that you can take care of yourself and cut down on stress include:
- Limit your caffeine and nicotine intake
- Get some regular physical exercise
- Get proper sleep
- Practice meditation
- Talk about your feelings
- Keep a journal
Learn How to Handle Stress in Addiction Recovery
Just stopping the use of drugs or alcohol is not sufficient to maintain addiction recovery and avoid relapse. Everyone has sources of stress in life, and you can learn to effectively manage that stress and lead a productive and fulfilling life without using drugs or alcohol.
The Recovery Village is an effective and modern addiction treatment center that offers a variety of options depending on your needs and circumstances. Contact us now to learn more about admissions to a program that will fit your needs.