Stress and addiction are a common pair seen in the lives of individuals who seek help through treatment. Although there is no scientific research done throughout the length of a span of years to back the claim that stress and addiction are always a pair seen in rehabilitation patients, it’s simply an accepted fact that most individuals in recovery suffer from both ailments. Undoubtedly, this is due to the ongoing consequences that living with an addiction inevitably poses and the effect that addiction can have on the mind and soul. Fortunately, those that seek help through rehabilitation and recovery have a good chance of managing stress that relates to their developed addiction to live more happy and healthier lives.

The Damages of Stress

It’s obvious that developing an addiction to drugs is damaging to the body and mind, but the damaging impact of stress is less known. Stress can affect literally every aspect of a person’s life including health, sleep, nutrition, relationships, and responsibilities. Physically, stress can cause the blood vessels to constrict and the heart to race, which may result in future medical problems like heart disease and blood pressure issues if stress is long-lasting and managed poorly. Additional to physical damage, stress can pay a toll to us emotionally. Stress and anxiety may lead to agitation, which is outwardly and involuntarily managed by repetitive habits that can be unhealthy. Biting nails, smoking cigarettes, and overeating are all involuntary and unhealthy ways that individuals adapt to manage emotional stress levels.

Ties Between Mental Health, Stress and Addiction

Stress can be a result of numerous reasons, but high levels of stress are usually seen in patients seeking rehabilitation from drug addiction because of a correlating mental condition. In fact, according to a study done by  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 16% of patients enrolled into drug or alcohol treatment have concurring mental health issues that play a part alongside their addiction. Mental health issues can either be a result of drug addiction, or they can be a reason for drug addiction to begin in the first place. Depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD, and other mental health issues all list high levels of stress as a characterizing condition.

The Negative Effects of Stress on Those in Recovery

It is imperative to manage stress throughout addiction recovery because those that do are more likely to experience successful long-term recovery. Patients with higher levels of stress or who do not learn how to manage stress levels are more likely to leave rehabilitation prematurely or relapse in the early days of recovery. Experiencing stress throughout recovery can lead to self-management attempts to reduce stress levels, which may include using a drug of choice. Stress is known as one of the biggest triggers of cravings for those attempting to live a life of sobriety, so stress management skills are an imperative part of the treatment process.

Stress Management Methods in Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Fortunately, although stress is not a curable or tangible illness, there are ways of reducing and managing stress when it arises so that it does not pose a threat to an individual’s recovery. Different techniques taught and practiced throughout treatment and recovery from addiction may include:

Dual Diagnosis Programs: Designed to help individuals diagnosed with both addiction and mental illness, dual diagnosis works to identify and confront underlying causes of both ailments in those in treatment.

Sober Skills: As a way to learn to cope with the trigger of stress, sober skill development can help individuals when they step outside treatment walls and experience cravings and triggers for their drug of choice brought on by stress.

Holistic Therapy: Eastern medicine has embraced holistic therapies like yoga and meditation for centuries. Yoga and meditation both work to find inner peace, understanding, and love for the self as individuals heal throughout recovery. These personal benefits allow a greater self-awareness and capability to manage stress as it arises.

Are you Affected by Both Stress and Addiction?

If you struggle with both stress and addiction, there is help available for you. Treatment for both stress and addiction is successful for people who wish to live a life of sobriety. All it takes is a dedication to becoming a better you and a willingness to embrace new knowledge and change! Ready to learn more about methods to managing your stress and addiction? Give Discovery Institute a call today at 888-616-7177 or visit our website to learn more about how we help people just like you!


Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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