Drugs and alcohol often serve as a crutch that helps people get through life’s most stressful situations. People who have been sober for years can suddenly develop an addiction after experiencing a major stressor, such as losing a loved one. Or, you might have been slowly increasing your substance use as life’s stresses increased over the years. At first, thinking about living without drugs or alcohol can feel overwhelming. If so, then rest assured that you are not alone. One of the first things people tend to ask when they get to an addiction treatment center is how do I manage stress without substances. The truth is that the answer to this question is very personal. What works for one person, might not help someone else to relax. The trick to figuring it out is to work with a professional who can help you find the healthiest ways to manage stress in your life.
When you’ve been misusing substances for a long period of time, you might have forgotten what brings you joy. Many people give up activities that they enjoyed in their youth as work and family obligations begin to pile up. You might have also stopped doing things that made you happy if you experienced a physical block, such as developing a disability. Whatever happened in the past, doesn’t have to affect your present. Sure, the things that you do to relax now might be different, but there are many effective strategies for handling stress that work better than using drugs and alcohol.
Find Healthy and Effective Ways to Manage Stress
The problem with using substances to manage stress is that they tend to generate more issues for you to overcome. In addition to worrying about your health, work or relationships, you now also have to stress about making sure that you always have enough drugs or alcohol on hand to get your fix. If you’re using heavy amounts of drugs or alcohol, then you could also be stressed out about overdosing or getting caught with illegal substances. Getting help with your addiction instantly helps to alleviate those worries, so that you can begin addressing your other sources of stress one-by-one.
Stress management works best when you use multiple strategies for handling your physical and emotional responses to stressors. Some of these techniques might include the following:
- talking to a professional therapist
- sharing your burden with peers in group therapy
- ending toxic relationships and other unnecessary sources of stress
- mending broken relationships that are worth keeping
- learning relaxation techniques
- finding hobbies to serve as a distraction
Addiction often occurs along with other underlying mental health conditions that contribute to your stress levels. Unresolved conflicts, childhood trauma and chronic depression can all leave you feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. In your addiction treatment, you’ll spend time working on finding coping skills that help to alleviate the symptoms of any co-existing mental health conditions that you have. For instance, you might use talk therapy to help you work through trauma, or you might bring in a family member so that you can work things out with the help of a counselor.
As your body weans off of substances, it will be more capable of producing natural endorphins that help to lower stress levels. When you aren’t dealing with a hangover in the morning, you might feel more up to taking a walk around the neighborhood or hitting the gym. Getting your body moving helps to burn off pent up energy so that your body’s natural endorphins are more effective. In addition to exercise, you’ll find that staying sober gives you more time to explore activities that bring you joy. Zoning out while you tend to a garden or play a new song on your guitar helps to take your mind off of your problems. When you get done, you’ll find that having a fresh perspective helps you to get through any lingering stress that you feel.
Does life seem impossible to manage without using drugs or alcohol? If so, we are here to let you know that getting sober is the ultimate form of stress relief. Reach out to our caring team to begin rediscovering how great life can be in sobriety. Call us at 855-334-6120.