Managing Stress During Drug Addiction Recovery
One of the first steps to long-term drug addiction recovery is identifying potential relapse triggers. With stress being one of the leading reasons for relapsing, it’s important to understand how to manage day-to-day stress.
Stress can not only lead to the beginning stages of drug addiction, but is also one of the leading causes for drug addiction relapse. In order to manage stress effectively, it’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms of stress, the sources of stress and what tools are available to minimize the effects of stress.
Warning Signs of Stress
Small doses of stress in life is normal and typically nothing to worry about. However, when the stress continues and is ongoing, chronic stress can turn into something very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, when it becomes unbearable, previous drug addicts may turn to drugs to cope with the symptoms. According to WebMD, here is a list of some of the emotional, physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms of stress to be aware of:
- Emotional symptoms: easily agitated, moody, feeling overwhelmed, loss of control, difficulty relaxing, having low self-esteem, loneliness, feeling depressed and avoiding others
- Physical symptoms: lack of energy, headaches, upset stomach, aches, pains, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, frequent colds or infections, loss of sexual desire, nervousness, shaking, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, clenched jaw and grinding teeth
- Cognitive symptoms: constant worrying, racing thoughts, forgetfulness, lack of focus, poor judgement and pessimism
- Behavioral symptoms: changes in appetite, procrastination, avoiding responsibilities and exhibiting nervous behaviors (nail biting, fidgeting and pacing)
Reasons for Stress
It’s inevitable that stress is going to be present in all stages of life. However, a previous drug abuser should be aware of where stress may arise in given situations. By recognizing what scenarios may lead to stress, a recovering addict can be better prepared on how to respond in a healthy way. Sources of stress vary for each individual, however, below is a list of a few common reasons for stress:
- Financial burdens
- Family/marital conflicts
- Maintaining, losing or starting a new job
- Physical and psychological conditions
- Unhealthy friendships
- Legal problems
- Significant life changes
Stress Management Tools
Stress management is most effective when implemented regularly and consists of both healthy lifestyle changes and working with the appropriate health professionals. A recovering drug addict should make a stress management plan that can be used during stressful situations, but can also become a part of their daily routine. The following tools can help manage stress during drug addiction recovery:
- Exercise: Release tension build-ups in the body through a daily or weekly exercise routine. Regular exercise can leave one feeling accomplished, stronger and more confident.
- Healthy diet: Implement well-balanced meals to improve the immune system, energy levels and mood. Providing the body the essential nutrients will lead to better physical and emotional well-being.
- Sleep schedule: According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is recommended that teenagers (14-17) should get 8-10 hours of sleep each night, adults (18-64) 7-9 hours and older adults (65+) 7-8 hours. Getting the proper amount of sleep can reduce mental exhaustion for clearer decision-making.
- Counseling: Seeking counseling after drug addiction treatment can provide a healthy environment for sharing feelings about recovery, friends, family and more. Counseling allows a recovering drug abuser to problem-solve stressors with a clear mind.
- Meditation: Create a calm, peaceful and tranquil environment through meditating and yoga. Meditation can help with creating a relaxing mind and body experience.
- Activities: When stress and tension arises, find relaxing hobbies to keep busy. Unwind the mind through various activities such as exercising, listening to music, photography, cooking/baking, reading painting and more.
Stress will inevitably be around for the long hull, but reduce the risk of relapse by implementing a mix of stress management techniques. No two stress management plans for drug addiction recovery are alike. Find the perfect combination of skills that work for you or a loved one by trying out some of the different tools available.