Any parent knows that raising children is one of the hardest jobs that anyone could ever have. Parenting means balancing the needs of one's child or children as well as working and maintaining an entire household. There is no question that with parenting comes a tremendous amount of stressors, but are parents dealing with stress in an unhealthy way? Many parents may not even realize that they are using drugs or alcohol to deal with their stress and inadvertently become addicted.
Stress and Triggers
When an emotion, event, or person leads a person to want to use drugs or alcohol, it is referred to as a "trigger." Stress is an emotion that nearly every addict and recovering addict identifies as a trigger. The problem is that a great number of things in life create stress. Raising a child in and of itself is a full time job. Regardless of how old a child is, there is a tremendous amount of time and energy that must be devoted to looking after their well being. Young children need constant supervision and older children often have emotional and intellectual needs that must constantly be met. In addition the the stresses caused by raising children, most parents must also deal with stressors in their own life: money management, work schedules, and a never-ending to-do list are all factors that can lead to stress.
Many Parents May Not Realize That They Are Self Medicating For Stress
Most busy people have uttered the phrase "What a day! I need a drink!" at least once. Many of those people say that phrase on a very regular basis. Stress is an emotion that causes unpleasant symptoms: restlessness, sleeplessness, lack of appetite, or increase in appetite. Once a person gets used to relieving the symptoms of stress with alcohol, they may not even be aware that they are self medicating and may believe that they are only drinking socially or just having a drink to take the edge off. This type of behavior can very easily become habitual or can become a common part of one's life. This is particularly true if a stressed out parent spends a lot of time with a co-worker or spouse who also uses alcohol as a way of dealing with stress. This may easily be confused with social drinking.
Abusing Prescriptions While Stressed
Alcohol is not the only drug that may be abused when a parent finds that they are stressed. Many people who experience severe stress also deal with anxiety, and may be prescribed a drug like Xanax to help with the symptoms. Many people who are overly stressed may find that they consume more of their prescription than recommended by their doctor. This can certainly also lead to addiction, even if the addict is prescribed the drug they are abusing.
Dealing WIth Stress In A Healthy Way
The best way for parents to avoid falling prey to stress-fueled addiction is to find healthy ways of dealing with stress and of preventing stressful situations when possible. One way of helping to reduce stress is to work on time management. Devoting just thirty minutes a week to set up a calendar that has all of one's own obligations as well as their children's can help prevent unnecessary stress caused by poor time management. It is also important for parents to remember to budget true down time into their schedules. Even the busiest parents should find time to rest and relax, even if it's only for an hour or so a week. Even one ten minute walk a day can make a huge difference.