Substance Abuse Causes – How Using Drugs to Cope with Stress Can Lead to Addiction
It was estimated that around 9.4 percent of people in America abused drugs and alcohol in 2013, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s findings. Drug abuse can start for several reasons such as due to genetics, peer pressure or because of a pre-existing condition such as bi-polar or PTSD. Another common cause of addiction is using drugs to cope with stress due to a lack of coping skills. In these cases, the short-term relief that substance abuse gives the person quickly turns into far-reaching problems that end up causing many more issues in their life.
In this article, we will explore the relationship between stress and addiction to better understand why poor coping skills can lead to substance use disorder.
Types of Stress
Stress is what happens to your body and mind in response to uncomfortable situations. A person experiencing stress has an increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and their hormonal activity increases. Not all stress is the same: some stress may be felt acutely in the short-term while other stress can be chronic and occur over the long-term.
Acute stress is caused by situations such as standing up in front of the class or before you have to write a test. It is a healthy response to a situation where you may need heightened reactions to perform better.
Chronic stress is usually caused by larger, long-standing situations that can cause a stress response that seems to have no end. This can be a loved one passing away or hardships at work. Chronic stress can also be caused by a person feeling that they aren’t intelligent enough or popular enough.
Relationship between Stress and Addiction
Stress and drug abuse are linked because of how common it is for people to use substance abuse as a means to deal with chronic and sometimes short-term acute stress. Using drugs to cope with stress can suddenly make all of the overwhelming feelings it causes to vanish. Such a sudden and strong result can make a person want to use a substance every time they feel such levels of stress.
The more frequently this situation occurs, the more likely the person will begin to turn to substance abuse every time they feel the slightest stress. By using drugs to cope with stress such as opioids, alcohol or cocaine, the physically addictive properties of the substances can accelerate the addiction forming process.
Ultimately, the short term relief that the substance abuse can give is quickly overshadowed by the many negative consequences of addiction. In fact, the problems such as stress become far worse over time.
The self-medicating process of stress and drug abuse usually requires rehab treatment in order to find balance in the person’s life again. In rehab, addicts are shown that using drugs to cope with stress will only cause more problems and more stress. Instead, they are taught how to deal with stressful situations and chronic stress by making use of healthy coping skills.
Building self-confidence, exercise and dietary changes are some of the ways that can help the recovering person to find new outlets for stress and help them to become better at dealing with the stress in their life.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.