Stress and anxiety are common features of modern life. The average person can withstand these emotional/physical states and remain healthy within limits. However, if you are pushed beyond your limits, a variety of problems can occur. Those problems can include higher risks for relapse for anyone recovering from substance addiction. This fact helps explain why stress and anxiety treatment may be crucial to your ability to maintain your sobriety.
What Are Stress and Anxiety?
Stress and anxiety are closely related. Stress occurs when you feel under emotional and/or physical pressure. As a rule, that pressure comes from something outside of you. Some situations produce short-term stress. Other stressful situations can be recurring or even ongoing.
In contrast to stress, anxiety is an internal response. This response represents your body’s reaction to stressful situations. You may experience anxiety during such a situation. However, you may also experience it when no external stress is present.
Stress and Addiction
There is a known link between stress and addiction. What accounts for this connection? When you’re exposed to stress, your body reacts by releasing chemicals called stress hormones. The most important of these chemicals include:
- Adrenaline (also known as epinephrine)
Together, your stress hormones trigger your fight-or-flight response. This response puts your mind and body on high alert for potential danger.
Research shows that substance abuse can alter your normal stress reaction. Essentially, you become more sensitive to the effects of stressful situations. In turn, you’re more likely to use drugs or alcohol to relieve your stress. The result may eventually be the onset of addiction.
Anxiety and Addiction
There is also a known connection between anxiety and addiction. In response to recurring anxious feelings, some people drink or take drugs. As with stress, the goal of doing this is typically emotional and physical relief. The more often you self-medicate anxiety in this way, the more likely you are to become addicted.
If your anxious feelings disrupt your ability to function, you may have a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Common examples of these widespread mental health conditions include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
Anxiety disorders and addiction often occur together. Their overlap is an example of the combined illness known as dual diagnosis. People with a social anxiety disorder may have especially high addiction risks.
Relapse and Its Connection to Stress and Anxiety
The same factors that make stress and anxiety risks for addiction also make them relapse risks. When you go through substance treatment, you typically learn to manage stressful and anxious feelings. However, you may still be susceptible to their effects when treatment ends.
This means that you must continue to manage your stress and anxiety long-term. To do this successfully, you need ongoing help. Ideally, that help will include some form of professional support or oversight. You can also benefit from your own personal efforts to manage anxiety and stress. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, you may need to re-enroll in a treatment program.
Seek Help for Stress and Anxiety at New Start Recovery
At New Start Recovery, we understand the role that anxiety and stress can play in addiction. That’s why our drug and alcohol services include anxiety treatment for those in recovery. Our goal is to help you better manage your stress and anxious feelings. When this goal is achieved, your relapse risks may be substantially reduced.
New Start also provides other forms of support for long-term relapse prevention. Options available to you include our alumni and sober living programs. For more information on how we can help, call us today at 833.433.0448 or fill out our brief online form.