There is a strong correlation between stress and substance abuse. This includes substances such as alcohol, drugs and other controlled substances. However, the long standing relationship between the two goes beyond substance abuse. Relapse forms part of the journey towards becoming completely independent from various chemical substances. While you may make a commitment to break from your dependence on these substances, the urge to use the substances is likely to arise during the recovery process. Stress is one of the triggers for a relapse, evoking emotions that can make you turn to alcohol and drugs for relief.
People who are going through the process of healing should understand what stress is. By being able to identify the various signs of stress, you will be able to prepare adequately for the challenges that lie ahead and will come up with proper techniques of preventing a relapse.
What is stress?
Stress can be described as the body’s way to react to emotional and physical demands. Although all of us experience stress from time to time, it can have a huge impact on the life of someone recovering from drug addiction. Stress arises from different situations and affects different individuals in varied ways. Regardless of the source of stress, it is clear that it will have adverse effects on your health and overall well-being.
Some of the common causes of stress include getting married or divorced, losing a job or finding a new place of work, distressing events in your life, financial problems, moving to a new area, having a baby, retiring and having issues at work or at home. Stress will manifest itself in different ways, making it important to be familiar with the various signs of stress.
Signs of stress
With the impact that stress can have on your physical and mental well-being, you may confuse it for illness. It is at this point that some people feel the urge to use drugs and alcohol to deal with the situation. Some of the indicators that you could be under stress are frequent and severe headaches, inability to focus, muscle tension and pain, fatigue, stomach problems, irritability and anger, amnesia, insomnia, racing thoughts and social withdrawal.
Knowledge of these signs will not only help those who are on the journey to healing but also those whose loved ones are recovering from dependence on chemical substances. Whenever your loved one exhibits one or a combination of these signs, you will know that it is time to take the necessary measures.
How stress affects relapses
Stress is a highly inflammatory emotion that has the potential to drive those recovering from drug problems towards the same drugs and alcohol. According to Calgary therapists, stress plays a critical role at every stage of relapse. With the pressure that comes with withdrawing from drugs and alcohol, stress may lead a person to make irrational decisions. Indeed, this has helped many rehabilitation centers to develop effective programs and treatment plans.
- Emotional relapse – in this stage, emotions and actions will clearly show that an individual is at risk of relapsing. However, the person may not be aware that they are considering taking such a step. Some of the signs that someone in this stage will display are irritation, mood swings, anxiety and depression.
- Mental relapse – this is the second stage in the process of going back to using the controlled substances. At this stage, the recovering patient will be aware that they are contemplating relapsing. Part of them will want to go back to using the substances while another will consider it a bad habit that they should stay away from.
- Physical relapse – this refers to the actual process of going back to using drugs and alcohol. When proper interventions are not taken, it will take a relatively short period of time for mental relapse to develop into physical relapse.
Stress management techniques that will aid in recovery
Once you leave the rehab and recovery center, there is a chance that you will struggle with addiction. This is because you will be reintroduced to the social circles and situations that you associate with substance abuse. When you come back to normal life, it is critically important to develop effective stress management techniques and coping mechanisms that will help you to avoid temptations that will result in a relapse.
- Creating positive relationships – In order to ensure physical and mental wellness, it may be necessary to break off friendships and relationships that cause you stress. In their place, you can choose to create positive relationships that will bring about positive energy in your life. This will help you to handle any stressful situations that you may face, effectively preventing a relapse.
- Learn how to communicate effectively – When you leave the rehabilitation center and return to normal life, you will be interacting with people on a daily basis. This makes it important to learn how to communicate effectively. By doing this, you will avoid the irritability associated with stress and get the help you need to manage the condition.
- Improve your physical wellness – Stress will adversely affect your physical well-being in a major way. This makes it important to improve your physical wellness as a way of managing stress. You should consider engaging in gentle exercises, getting enough sleep and eating healthy. All these will help you to avoid relapse and to help you realize a balance in your life.
- Yoga and meditation – Stress causes considerable physical and mental pressure on an individual. With yoga and meditation, you will be able to relax and ease the pressure you may experience from various situations. You are also likely to feel more energized, a factor that will allow you to focus on the present rather than worrying too much about the future.
- Hobbies – By engaging in activities that you enjoy, you will be able to occupy your mind instead of the racing thoughts that result in stress. Hobbies will also help you to focus on things that are pleasant and productive. Some of the activities you can consider engaging in are writing, listening to music, knitting, playing an instrument and painting.
- Improve your mental wellness – Just like improving physical wellness, mental wellness will involve engaging in mentally stimulating activities. When this does not seem to work, you should seek professional intervention. You should look for qualified and experienced Calgary psychologists who will help you to handle the difficult situation you are going through.