Stress is among the major factors that lead to addiction. It also plays a role in addiction maintenance, treatment failure, and relapse. Stressful events in life and poor skills for coping can increase addiction risk. That’s because they can increase impulsive response and self-medication. Although eliminating stress may be impossible, people can find ways of managing it.
Stress can be described as hardship or adversity like grief or poverty. In biology, a stressful event can increase the level of stress hormones like cortisol in the blood. Naturally, fight-or-flight is a normal stress response. During this response, the blood supply to the muscles increases in readiness for action.
However, it’s crucial to differentiate normal and chronic stress. Challenging and moderate stressors have a limited duration. These are sometimes considered pleasant. It’s not surprising that some people chase such stressful situations. That’s because they prompt the body to release the stress hormones. But, prolonged, unpredictable, and intense stressors like interpersonal conflict, unemployment, and losing a loved one can cause depressive-like symptoms and helplessness. Chronic stress can cause depression, headaches, influenza, common cold, tense shoulders, and the neck, as well as, grinding teeth.
When this happens, individuals can try to self-medicate. And, if this continues, individuals can develop addictions that will necessitate calling a help line which provides free support for drug addicts. This is a helpline number that is manned by professionals that help addicts and their loved ones find the much-needed assistance. The professionals can also provide information about the available treatment facilities. They can also guide individuals that are ready to undergo treatment for drug addiction.
How Stress Can Lead to Addiction
Most people become vulnerable to addiction later in life if they experience early childhood trauma. Early life adversity is associated with problems later in life via social epigenetics. Higher stress levels that are experienced during early childhood cn lead to key genes methylation. This controls a person’s stress system. Essentially, early adversity changes genetics. And once this happens, a person lives in a state of emergency constantly.
Another context that can expose a person to chronic stress is the workplace. Work-related stress is a major reason some people abuse drugs, become addicts and eventually call rehab seeking assistance.
Job demands, inability to control decisions, and lacking social support at the workplace are some of the factors that can cause chronic stress. Individuals that do not consider themselves and being in control are more susceptible to having clinical anxiety, depression, and stress-related health conditions like diabetes and ulcers.
How an individual interprets stress, as well as how they cope with it is what matters the most. Some people use reappraisal to cope. This entails viewing their situation differently. For instance, an individual can interpret a stressful circumstance or event as not being a big deal.
However, another person can cope with the same circumstance or event by drinking or smoking. Unfortunately, when the same situation or event repeats itself almost every day and the person uses the same strategy they can end being addicted to nicotine or alcohol. This will eventually require them to call a drug helpline to get professional assistance.
Child neglect and abuse can also increase a person’s risk of addiction via decreased self-control. Young adults with substance abuse risk have decreased emotional control and self-control. And, their environments and experiences can lead to addictive behaviors.
Self-Medication Concept and Addiction
Research has linked self-medication to addiction vulnerability and drug use. Self-medication theory suggests that a person can use drugs to cope with or treat the tension caused by life stressors. They can also use drugs or alcohol to relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress that is caused by a traumatic event. Thus, they can use alcohol or drug to soothe psychological distress or regulate emotions.
Unfortunately, continued self-medication leads to dependence on the used drugs or alcohol. If nothing is done, a person ends up becoming an addict or alcoholic. Thus, they will eventually call an addiction number to overcome their dependence on alcohol or drugs.
The Bottom Line
Stress comes from different places. It can arise from working conditions, the environment a person was brought up in, and traumatic events in life. However, poor coping strategies, like drinking or self-medicating can lead to addiction. Thus, a person may have to call a rehab hotline seeking assistance. As such, it’s important to understand how stress develops, its origin, how it works, and how to develop coping skills. This will prevent or lower the chances of self-medicating with drugs that can lead to addiction. It will also lower the chances of relapsing when undergoing treatment for addiction.