How the Rat Race and Stress Can Put You at Greater Risk of Misusing Substances and How to Cope

Life in the fast lane can be a drag, leaving us feeling drained, disillusioned, and defeated. The hustle and bustle of modern society can take its toll and leave us feeling like we're running on fumes. The relentless push to excel and stay ahead of the curve can be overwhelming, driving our stress levels and putting our well-being at risk. Unsurprisingly, some people use substances to cope with the daily grind, leading to many problems, including addiction and other serious consequences.


In this blog post, we'll explore the link between the rat race and everyday or chronic stress and the increased risk of substance misuse. We'll also offer practical advice and helpful tips on coping with stress healthily, so you can avoid turning to harmful substances as a crutch.


Identifying triggers of stress-related substance misuse

To avoid and overcome drug and alcohol use due to stress, it is crucial first to identify the causes of such use. Since stress may affect or exacerbate substance usage, it is vital to recognize what might set off anxious feelings to manage them better.


Typical causes include:

  • Job stress or expectations that are too high
  • Financial concerns
  • Relationship issues
  • Health concerns
  • Chronic conditions


It's also important to remember that different people react differently to the same pressures; what stresses one person out could not have the same effect on someone else.


Keeping a stress journal or seeing a therapist might be helpful when trying to determine the specific causes of stress in one's life. Once the source of stress is recognized, healthy coping skills may be implemented. Developing more adaptive responses to stress has been linked to decreased vulnerability to drug abuse and enhanced well-being.


Understanding the connection between stress and substance use

Stress is one of the most well-known contributors to both the onset of addiction and the susceptibility to relapse. There are a variety of factors, including the nature of the presenting external or internal stimuli, the individual's personality, the availability of coping mechanisms, the timing of the event, the experiencer's emotional state, and the brain areas controlling the assessment of stimuli as stressful, that contribute to the individual's perception and appraisal of stress.


Researchers in psychology and sociology have shown that people are less able to regulate their emotions and more prone to act impulsively when their stress levels rise. This makes them more likely to engage in harmful activities. Increasing stress levels are associated with a decline in prefrontal functioning and an increase in reacting at the limbic-striatal level, which maintains poor behavioral and cognitive control.


As population-based and clinical investigations show, psychosocial adversity, negative affect, and chronic distress positively relate to addiction susceptibility. Several studies have examined how chronic stress and hardship might make people more susceptible to addiction. The results show that the total number of stressful events is a strong and dose-dependent predictor of alcohol and drug dependency, even when other variables are considered. Anxiety brought on by persistent stress is a risk factor for habit formation.


Chronic substance use may impair one's ability to cope with stress without drugs, perpetuating a vicious cycle in which stress prompts a need to use substances to alleviate unpleasant emotions. Although alcohol or drugs may provide momentary relief from stressful or anxious sensations, they make it more challenging to handle these emotions in the long term.


Implementing healthy coping mechanisms

Preventing substance use requires the use of appropriate coping skills for managing stress. As a result of anxiety and stress, many people develop maladaptive behaviors like using drugs or alcohol. These behaviors have the potential to develop into substance use problems very fast. Finding effective stress-reduction strategies and incorporating them into your everyday life is crucial.


The CDC recommends the following activities to help you relieve stress:


  • If you find it triggering, take a vacation from news coverage on TV, radio, or social media. Take a break from your phone, TV, and the internet, and restrict your news intake to once or twice daily.
  • Remember to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and be kind to yourself if you're feeling overwhelmed.
  • Take some time to relax. Get out of the house and do something fun.
  • Have conversations with other people. Please don’t keep your worries and emotions bottled up; share them with those you trust. Talk to someone about what's bothering you and how you're handling it, whether that's a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor.
  • Breathe deeply, stretch, or try some meditation.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Stay away from drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. They may temporarily alleviate symptoms but will bring more stress and complications in the long run.
  • Contact groups affiliated with your community or faith that can offer support.


By integrating these practices into your lifestyle, you can healthily manage stress and avoid the risk of substance misuse and addiction. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you struggle to manage stress and anxiety, don't hesitate to seek support from a professional.


Identifying when to seek professional help

Preventing substance use requires the use of appropriate coping skills for managing stress. As a result of anxiety and stress, many people develop maladaptive behaviors like using drugs or alcohol. These behaviors have the potential to develop into substance use problems very fast. Finding effective stress-reduction strategies and incorporating them into your everyday life is crucial.


Dual-diagnosis drug rehab will assign you a licensed therapist or counselor who can help you identify underlying issues contributing to your stress and substance misuse. Together you’ll develop a personalized treatment plan to help you identify triggers and learn to cope with stress healthily.


Creating a support system to help manage stress

In today's fast-paced society, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding the harmful effects of substance use require diligent attention to stress management. Having a positive outlook and effective coping strategies is crucial, as is having a solid social network. Having supportive people, such as friends, family, coworkers, or mental health experts, is a great way to vent about difficulties and get encouragement during stress. Another way to feel empowered and reminded that one is not alone in one's challenges is to get involved in a community or support group.


Having a network of people to talk to may help you gain perspective and acquire helpful defense strategies. If you have a strong network of people who have your back, you're more likely to take preventative measures against stress before it gets out of hand and deal with the ups and downs of everyday life healthily and positively.


People are more likely to turn to drugs when stressed out and living a fast life. Individuals may better manage stress and lower their risk of substance misuse or a use disorder by engaging in healthy behavioral practices like exercise, mindfulness, or meditation and getting professional support.


Contact Wish Recovery, the best inpatient rehab for co-occurring disorders treatment, and we will give you the tools to be your best self.

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