Stress can be managed if recognized in time and addressed appropriately. Stress can even motivate an addict to make much-needed changes to better his or her life. However, people usually ignore signs of stress, which increases the intensity of symptoms and worsens the situation. Chronic stress is uncomfortable and can be debilitating.
Poor stress management can lead individuals to seek prescription pills to relax or help with sleep. This can be a slippery slope back into the self-medicating behaviors of addiction. An addict’s awareness of the signs and symptoms of stress can decrease his or her relapse potential.
Daily life presents different types of stress. People that suffer from stress have difficulty managing the adjustment to life changes, unrealistic expectations, daily routines and personal relationships. The addict should be aware of circumstances that create stress in order to effectively address those issues. Learning how to deal with stress at work before mental health or addiction develop is key.
Some sources of stress are:
Individuals who are stressed might feel trapped and have difficulty finding their way out. This feeling creates a “fight or flight” response, which compounds physical and psychological symptoms. This response can have a negative impact on the addict’s ability to effectively manage stress.
When stress begins to have a negative impact on an addict’s daily functioning, he or she is at risk for relapse. All addicts should incorporate stress management techniques into their recovery program to decrease risk of relapse.
Managing stress is a skill that continuously needs to be worked on. Recognizing physical and psychological symptoms will help the addict manage stress better. An addict who is completing addiction treatment should make a stress management plan. Stress management is part of relapse prevention.
A stress management plan should ask:
Each source of stress should have a corresponding plan to alleviate symptoms of stress. For example, family conflict may be resolved by attending family therapy to increase communication skills and resolve the conflict. Also, exercise, meditation, journaling and breathing techniques are forms of stress relief that an addict can do daily.
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