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Stress and Addiction a Dangerous Duo

Stress and Addiction - The Bergand Group

There are a lot of conditions that are brought on, or worsened, by the presence of stress in a person’s life. Depending on how intense that stress is, the individual may have a very difficult time getting their lives back on track. Stress and addiction are also correlated, perhaps to no one’s surprise, and it “is a key risk factor in addiction initiation, maintenance, relapse, and thus treatment failure.”

The Threat of Both Stress and Addiction

There are a number of risks that stem from high levels of stress, particularly where substance use and abuse is concerned. Those who are in danger of developing an addiction for other reasons, such as family history, may be pushed toward that danger even more in situations of great stress. Those who already have addictions may find it more difficult than ever to abstain in similar situations because of this turmoil. In short, its effects can be devastating.

Though stress is typically thought of as an emotional or mental state of being, it has a number of physical effects as well: for example, it can increase your heart rate and/or blood pressure. There are also different kinds of stress, including both chronic and “normal” levels, with the former obviously being more of an issue given its repetition. Not only do those repeated experiences bring on more mental/emotional grief, but they can also bring about illness, since stress can decrease the effectiveness of your immune system.

Stress and addiction together are a powerfully negative force, and “there is solid evidence for the link between chronic stress and the motivation to abuse addictive substances.” Someone who comes home from work every day with high levels of stress may turn to substance use over time as a way to cope with those uncomfortable feelings. Whether to forget about unpleasant emotions or to create positive ones (however temporarily), alcohol and drugs provide many people who suffer from this intense stress a “way out” from that suffering.

There are other ways to deal with those feelings, other ways to cope, but they are rarely as “easy” as having a drink or a similar action. Part of the overall issue with drugs and alcohol is that, as far as coping methods go, they are a quick relief from typically-intense negativity. Other methods of recovery certainly exist, but they are not presented as working as quickly or “effectively.” Despite this difficulty, those who suffer from chronic stress need to work to find other ways to relieve that stress, because the effects over time, and the associated danger, will never go away.

Part of this strong correlation is thought to be “the self-medication theory, which suggests that the person may use drugs to cope with tension associated with life stressors or to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression resulting from a traumatic event.” That is, stress and addiction are so closely tied together because one leads to the other, or they’re a vicious cycle of bad feelings leading to bad substances leading to bad feelings, and so on. 

There is a lot of biology and psychology involved with this exploration and much more to be done before we can fully grapple with the concept. Stress and addiction are each turbulent forces on their own, and provide perilous situations for the individual when experienced together. If you need help to recover from an addiction, stress-caused or otherwise, then contact The Bergand Group. We offer recovery programs for yourself or for others or are seeking education materials about addictions. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues, including direction for those who may be denying an addiction.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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