Stress management is a key factor in addiction recovery. If a person can manage stress during addiction recovery, he or she could prevent a relapse. Conversely, failure to manage stress may lead to a relapse – and make it virtually impossible for a person to overcome his or her addictive behaviors.

Stress is a major problem during addiction recovery, but there are lots of ways people can manage stress during this process. Now, let’s examine stress, its impact on addiction recovery, and ways to manage stress and prevent relapse.

A Closer Look at Stress and Recovery

Stress refers to the body’s reaction to any change that requires a response or adjustment. It occurs for a number of reasons, including:

  • Working too much and/or working in dangerous conditions
  • Death of a family member, friend, or other loved ones
  • Chronic injury or illness
  • Emotional problems like grief, guilt, or depression
  • Traumatic event like a natural disaster or theft

Recent research shows 77% of Americans experience physical symptoms related to stress, according to The American Institute of Stress. Additionally, 73% of Americans experience psychological issues caused by stress, and 33% say they feel like they are dealing with “extreme stress.”

When it comes to stress treatment, there is no surefire solution, either. Common ways people deal with stress include:

  • Taking deep breaths
  • Exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Meeting with a doctor
  • Using a stress diary

Ultimately, treating stress is paramount, particularly for individuals dealing with stress in sobriety. If an individual struggles with stress management in recovery, the consequences can be dire.

How Is Addiction Related to Stress?

Studies show people who are dealing with high levels of stress are more prone than others to drug and alcohol abuse. To better understand why this is the case, let’s consider how the brain and body respond to stress.

Like addictive drugs, stress changes the way the brain functions. People who are dealing with a drug addiction may be hypersensitive to stress. Furthermore, researchers have found long-term potentiation (LTP), a brain mechanism involved in memory and learning, is affected by both stress and substance abuse.

Stress increases a person’s risk of substance abuse, too. For example, in one study, researchers found there was a rise in substance abuse among individuals living in New York City neighborhoods affected by 9/11.

In some instances, people abuse opioids or benzodiazepines in the hopes of alleviating stress. These drugs may help individuals temporarily relieve stress but can cause long-lasting damage.

If a person becomes addicted to opioids or benzodiazepines, he or she may experience drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Over time, this individual may require higher doses and more frequent use of these drugs to achieve the same results as well. In this scenario, an individual is more susceptible than ever before to a fatal drug overdose.

Stress Management in Recovery: What You Need to Know

Stress management in recovery is often challenging. Fortunately, there are many things a person can do to keep his or her stress levels in check, including:

1. Limit Caffeine and Nicotine Consumption

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, and as such, may raise a person’s stress levels. Therefore, it is crucial for a person to avoid excess amounts of caffeine and nicotine during recovery. Whenever possible, a person in recovery should substitute caffeinated beverages for herbal tea, water, and other non-caffeinated drinks. He or she should also stop smoking; to do so, it may be beneficial to meet with a doctor to explore smoking cessation options.

2. Stay Active

Research shows a direct correlation between aerobic exercise and reduced stress levels. In fact, even five minutes of aerobic exercise daily helps alleviate anxiety that otherwise leads to stress. Exercise also helps reduce fatigue, enhance mental alertness and concentration, and drive improved overall cognitive function. 

3. Get Sufficient Rest

Stress sometimes causes insomnia, but a comfortable sleep environment can help a person put stress and insomnia to rest. By setting up a sleep environment that is dark and distraction-free, an individual can focus on getting the rest he or she needs. Then, this individual can develop a consistent sleep regimen that enables him or her to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. 

4. Share Your Thoughts and Feelings

There is no need to let stress linger; conversely, an individual struggling with stress can meet with a mental health counselor. That way, this individual can discuss his or her thoughts and feelings and identify stressors. An individual can also seek out peer support groups, which are often available in cities and towns across the United States.

5. Maintain a Stress Diary

A stress diary offers a great option for a person who feels overwhelmed by stress. The diary enables an individual to jot down his or her feelings at a moment’s notice. Plus, a stress diary sometimes helps a person rank his or her stress levels at different times. With this information in hand, an individual is well-equipped to understand and treat his or her stressors.

The Bottom Line on Stress and Addiction

Stress and addiction cause major problems, but both are treatable. If an individual is dealing with stress that leads to addiction – or vice-versa – meeting with a doctor usually provides a great first step to address both issues.

At Clear Sky Recovery, we offer an ibogaine therapy program designed to treat addiction and alleviate stress. Our ibogaine therapy program accounts for stress management in recovery. We also ensure each ibogaine therapy patient concludes his or her treatment program with a plan in place to manage stress and prevent a relapse. To find out more about our ibogaine therapy program, please call us today at 305.901.5371.