Why Stress Is So Dangerous (And How To Defeat It)
Stress is a part of life, but you can learn to overcome its negative effects
Stress is unavoidable. People in our lives might rub us the wrong way; financial problems can seem like they can eat us alive; work can become overwhelming.
Society conditions us to deal with many of these situations by turning to drugs and alcohol. Social customs like happy hour or having a couple of drinks at the end of a stressful day suggest that this is the right way to deal with stress. While some can find relief in the short term, this strategy doesn’t solve underlying problems.
For an addict, or someone with addictive tendencies, it can be downright dangerous.
What Causes Stress
Many things intensify the stress in our lives. Some of these include:
- An excessive workload, or lack of time
- Major life changes, like moving or changing jobs
- Illness or the death of a loved one
- Strained relationships
- Legal problems
- Unhealthy habits, including substance abuse
Some of these problems actually benefit from the positive side of stress — the fight or flight response which can push you to accomplish more, in short bursts. But stress isn’t meant to be experienced all the time, and when these problems last for a long time, that stress becomes destructive.
When you are stressed for a long time, it takes a toll on your health. Stress can contribute to compromising your immune system, perpetuate mental health problems like depression and anxiety, aggravate digestive disorders, and contribute to major health conditions like heart disease.
Drugs and alcohol are often used as a way to self medicate in response to stress. Alcohol and depressants can provide a feeling of relaxation which masks stress — but doesn’t solve the problem. Other drugs, like stimulants, can increase energy levels at a high cost and seem like an answer to a heavy workload. The problem is that neither of these routes are a real solution to the source of your stress, even though they can seem like it. The result is a temptation to continue using; and as your tolerance builds, it takes more and more of the drug or alcohol to get the same effect.
This is why an effective drug and/or alcohol treatment program has to focus on more than treating the addiction itself. Even after the abused substance is out of your system, you will still need to square up with the same stressors that lead to self medication in the first place. A good treatment program will teach healing strategies to accomplish this goal.
Meditation and yoga are two strategies that we use at Malibu Beach Recovery Center to help people handle stressful situations successfully. Other techniques our members have found helpful include breathing exercises, group therapy, and counseling. You will need to experiment and find the strategies that work most effectively for you.
Putting it All Together
When stress leads to addiction, it is important not only to address the substance abuse, but to find positive ways to deal with those stressors in the future. If you are searching for a treatment program, understand that the road is not the same for each person. Your treatment program should focus on individualized strategies to make sure that you are aware of and can positively deal with the stressors in your life.