The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recognizes the relationship between stress and substance misuse and subsequent substance use disorders (SUDs).

Although everyone experiences stress in one way or another, it is a strong trigger for relapse for those in recovery for SUDs, even after long periods of abstaining from drugs or alcohol. 

What is Stress?

Stress is a difficult term to define due to the various degrees in which it affects individuals. The body responds to stress to protect itself from the dangers it recognizes from experiencing emotional or physical stressors.

These stressors differ for everyone, as what one person perceives as stressful may not be the same for another. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines stress as “any uncomfortable emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological and behavioral changes.”

Coping with Stress

Coping with stress is also individualized, as some people exercise, while others may self-medicate using alcohol or drugs. These coping strategies play an integral role in how stress impacts our bodies.

For example, in using personal support systems, some individuals can cope effectively with the emotional and physical demands of stress. However, those exposed to extensive and prolonged stress develop disruptions in daily functioning, which may require therapy and treatment. 

The Relationship Between Stress and Substance Misuse

Stressful events can greatly influence substance use, misuse, and the development of SUDs. Furthermore, stress is a key component in the introduction to drug or alcohol use, the continuing use of these substances, as well as relapse after periods of abstaining from them.

Children exposed to extreme stress may be more prone to substance use, and subsequent SUDs. Numerous studies indicate a strong relationship between early life stressors such as child abuse, and an increased risk for the development of anxiety, depression, and substance misuse in adulthood.

Are You Looking for Help with Stress and SUDs?

We must all focus on our emotional well-being and foster its health and wellness. First, by finding ways to manage stress in healthy ways, and then by avoiding turning to the use of drugs or alcohol to escape the stressful realities we face every day.

The body’s response to stress varies from person to person, and therefore, so does the relationship between stress and substance use, misuse, and SUDs. 

At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.