One of the biggest reasons why people become addicted to drugs and alcohol is stress. We all experience stress, either good or bad, in our day to day lives and how we deal with it is very important to our wellbeing. For some people, coping with the problem results in substance abuse or alcoholism. Learn more about what happens to your health when you use substances or alcohol during stressful times.
The Effects of Stress
Stress by itself causes many changes in our bodies. It releases hormones and neurochemicals that prepare your body to handle the strain and respond to whatever is causing your stress. During this process, your blood pressure rises, your heart rate speeds up and even your blood sugar goes up. If you are under stress for a long period of time, then your health could really be impacted.
Substance Use on Top of Stress
Alcohol or drug abuse also causes changes in your body. Many changes may be the same that stress causes and in some cases, alcohol and drugs might appear to lessen the symptoms of stress. This reaction is why many turn to substances when they have to handle a stressful situation. However, the effects of drugs or alcohol often add to the chemical and hormonal changes that occur during stressful situations. This may cause your body to be impacted more severely or reveal the stresses on your body sooner rather than later. Using drugs or alcohol to cope can also lead to a long-term inability to handle even the most minor stressors.
Connections Between Stress and Substance Abuse
It is well-known that prolonged stress, such as that from childhood abuse, can lead to addictive behaviors. It is more likely for a person who is under constant stress to abuse drugs or alcohol because these substances often become the coping mechanism the person turns to. Stress changes the brain in the same way drugs and alcohol do, which has been linked to making people more susceptible to addiction. Our brains are already wired for the changes, so using substances becomes easier and natural.
Properly Dealing With Stressful Situations
Each person has his or her own way of dealing with a stressful situation. Some people may overeat, others may start drinking alcohol or abusing drugs. There may even be some people who combat stress with exercise. This is good news because if you suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, you can be proactive when it comes fighting against stressful life events. You can make a conscious effort to avoid falling into old patterns and instead find new ways to deal with stress in your life.
One of the best ways to avoid turning to drugs or alcohol is to get support. Mazzitti & Sullivan offers counseling services that can help you overcome substance abuse or develop better mental health. Learn more about our enrollment process and schedule your first appointment today.