How Stress Can Lead to Substance Abuse

There are a number of reasons many turn to specific substances such as alcohol or drugs. Young people often begin experimenting with these substances out of curiosity or because of peer pressure. However, stress is a factor for a significant number of individuals, and it is one that causes many to abuse alcohol or drugs.

Temporary Relief

Stress is something that affects the physical and mental well-being of individuals. Those who are unable to deal with stress positively and effectively may turn to alcohol or drugs for temporary relief. Unfortunately, those who self-medicate with alcohol or drugs are risking a number of other problems including addiction, which will ultimately make their problems worse.

What Causes Stress

Many things can leave people feeling stressed and in danger of turning to chemical substances. Some of these can include:

  • conflict with loved ones
  • the death of a loved one
  • serious illness
  • breakdown of a relationship
  • moving home or changing a job
  • legal problems
  • heavy workload.

Chronic Stress

Most people get stress from time to time, but they are able to manage it effectively. It may leave them feeling upset or frustrated, but it will pass. Nevertheless, some individuals live with stress constantly, which can have an adverse impact on their lives. Chronic stress causes certain chemicals to be released by the brain, and this can affect the immune system. Those who are dealing with chronic stress are likely to develop physical and mental health issues because they are run-down, and their immune systems are not working effectively.

Chronic stress can cause depression and fatigue, and some will turn to drugs or alcohol to make themselves feel better. Alcohol, for example, is a central nervous system depressant, which makes the user feel relaxed and calm in the short term. Nonetheless, continued abuse of alcohol can lead to dependence, which can result in even more stress for the individual.

Why it is Dangerous to Self-Medicate with Alcohol or Drugs

It is never a good idea to drink alcohol or take drugs to make oneself feel better. Self-medicating with chemical substances can lead to a number of issues, not least of which is addiction. Those affected by alcohol or drug addiction are in danger of losing their friends, families, jobs, wealth, and homes.

Substance abuse may make a person feel better in the short-term, but it will exacerbate problems if it continues. Those who are compelled to use drugs or drink alcohol will be unable to live normal healthy lives. They could find it difficult to hold down a job, and their relationships will suffer as the impact of the addiction begins to affect other individuals in their lives.

Alternative Ways of Dealing with Stress

Nobody can completely avoid stress as life has a way of throwing up situations that can leave people feeling upset and unhappy. Nevertheless, there are effective ways of dealing with stress that does not include alcohol or drugs.

One of the most useful methods for dealing with stress is meditation. Techniques such as mindfulness are commonly used in addiction recovery to help people stay sober. These tools are also useful for helping to deal with stressful situations. Learning how to acknowledge a stressful situation while removing yourself from it can often be enough to make a person feel better.

Exercise is another powerful way to relieve stress. A good workout or a long walk can help to make you feel calm and relaxed. Working out with others is also a good idea as talking about your problems will help to reduce any feelings of stress you may have.