Stress has a profound effect on a person's physical and mental health. But stress in itself is not a negative thing - it is actually the inability to deal with stress in a healthy way that takes a toll on a person's well being.
Many people choose to cope with stress by abusing drugs and alcohol.This can be effective as a short term remedy, but eventually the problem will become worse. Stress levels tend to rise as the person finds they are depending more and more on drinking and using drugs to feel normal.
It's important to understand how stress and substance abuse often go hand in hand to create a destructive cycle that is hard for anyone to break out of.
Every person has their own unique relationship with stress, as well as specific things that trigger it. Stress can be defined as a physical and mental response to some kind of demand placed on us. It releases chemicals in our bodies that prepare us to take some type of action in response.
For example, when faced with a dangerous situation the body naturally produces a fight or flight response. Stress is essential for our survival as human beings, and also unavoidable throughout our lives. This means that there is no way a person can avoid facing stressful situations during their lives, but they can choose how they deal with it.
Some common stress triggers include:
-Experiencing the death of a loved one.
-Facing career or relationship conflicts.
-Not managing time properly.
-Facing legal problems
-Going through major life transitions, such as moving or changing jobs.
-Divorce or ending a relationship
-Struggling with alcoholism or substance.
It is interesting that one of the most common stress triggers, abusing alcohol or drugs, is also one of the most common coping methods for stressful life situations. This is known as self medicating, or using substances to manage their problems.
For example, drinking alcohol when feeling stressed will produce a temporary sense of calm that will make a person feel that they have escaped their problems. They will continue to use alcohol to produce this effect until their original symptoms become minor in comparison to the damage that drinking is doing to their lives. Other ways that using drugs or alcohol to manage stress is harmful include:
Increasing likelihood of full blown addiction, which has its own destructive effects on a person's relationships, career, family, health, and overall quality of life.
Covering up the original problem so that a person never really learns to manage stress effectively.
Actually increasing the amount of stress in a person's life. This is due to the harmful effects alcohol and drug abuse have on all areas of a person's life.
It's always a good idea to learn how to recognize symptoms of stress in yourself, what your unique triggers are, and how to effectively deal with stress when it becomes an issue. The symptoms of stress most commonly include the following:
-Increased or decreased appetite.
-Headaches and other aches and pains in the body
-Feeling generally anxious
-Stomach problems, including aches and problems with digestion.
-Irritability or increased emotional sensitivity
-Falling into negative thought patterns
-Lowered immunity leading to frequent sickness
-Overall muscle tension
Learning to practice relaxation techniques, write in a journal exercise, talk to a friend or therapist, or participate in some other activity that helps you cope is a good way to effectively deal with stress. Every person inevitably faces stressful events in their lives, so learning how to cope is never a bad idea.
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