Stress and Relapse: The Connection

Girl Sits In A stressed state On The Floor Near The WallIt’s common for those who have had a long and stressful day to say, “I need a drink!” Stress and substance use are very often connected in the American consciousness, so when patients who struggle with drug and alcohol dependence experience stress, they are often tempted to relapse. Whether it’s a fight with a loved one, a perceived slight from a stranger, or difficulty in handling a major and ongoing issue, the stress that arises may feel like it can only be eased by taking a drink or getting high. Therefore, learning how to handle stress during rehab can be a useful tool in recovery.

Overall Stress

When one always feels a low to moderate level of stress, it’s not hard for every little bump in the road to feel like a major and overwhelming event. When in recovery, the effect of both ongoing levels of stress and acute stressors are amplified. Grief, sadness, frustration, depression, and anger – all these can create high levels of underlying stress, making it more difficult to manage acute stressors when they occur.

Lowering your overall stress level can make it easier to handle the inevitable stresses that come with life. You can accomplish this by:

  • Attending yoga. A focus on breathing, gentle stretches, and weight-bearing poses can serve to provide you a respite from the world during practice and decrease your stress in between sessions as well.
  • Eating well. Certain nutrients contribute to good mental health and wellness, which can improve your ability to get and maintain a balanced mood even in the face of stressful events.
  • Sleeping well. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day and limiting stimuli before bed can all contribute to getting a good night’s sleep, which can in turn play a huge part in your ability to manage mood and stress.
  • Taking space from stressful relationships. A stressful workplace, living in close quarters with a person who is a cause of stress or who commonly lives at a high level of stress, or spending time in stressful situations can increase your stress level as well.
  • Increasing positivity. Focusing on what you’re grateful for, including positive people in your life, and doing things that bring benefit to those around you can all increase your confidence in yourself and decrease stress.

Take the First Step

Learning the tools to manage stress and avoid relapse in recovery begins in addiction treatment. Contact us at Axis today to learn more about how we can help you start strong in recovery.