Stress has a big impact on your life when you have it. Anything from headaches to nausea, even social withdrawal and outbursts of intense anger. For people struggling with addiction, whether recently or years past, stress commonly triggers intense cravings for drug or alcohol use, and for many people, it’s hard to resist when they’re already stressed to the max.
People can’t predict how they’ll react to stress, but people who have an addiction often battle serious consequences if they cave in to the stress they feel. In general, the more stressors you’re exposed to, the higher the likelihood that you’ll abuse a substance at some point. Why is this, though?
Stress and addiction cravings are linked through the habit of the addicted to use drugs or alcohol to self medicate their way through stress. They used their substance of choice to relieve feelings of anxiety or depression from a traumatic event perhaps, or to relieve the tension they feel from life’s stressors. Even after years of sobriety, these cravings to use drugs or alcohol again during times of stress can flare up without warning, and the risk is even greater when the stress is extreme.
When we’re stressed, we want to feel better, we want to feel the pressure off of us and the tension disappear. Habits, no matter how long it’s been since we’ve broken them, tend to reemerge when we least expect them to. These substances that were once abused are often powerful chemicals that alter how our body reacts to stress, and affect how we’re able to control our responses. This includes triggering cravings, especially when the stress is similar to a situation experienced while in the grip of addiction.
Our brain is the part of our body most susceptible to stress. It affects our memory, how we feel physically and mentally, and when stress has our brain bogged down, it essentially opens the door to let old cravings creep back in at the worst possible time.
Remember that while the stress may not be something you can fix immediately, most cravings last only 15-25 minutes. This means if you can find a healthy way to distract yourself and your thoughts for that time, you’re doing exactly what you need to do to maintain your sobriety.
Addiction can rob you of your health and your dignity. Our 5-week program at The Springboard Center treats the whole person, creating healing in mind, body, and spirit. Bringing together evidence-based treatments and trusted 12-step principles, our best practices create a quality, accessible treatment program serving the Permian Basin and beyond. Call us today for information on our availability: (432) 620-0255