The complexities of addiction can be hard to recognize; however, there are key factors that can contribute to a drug relapse and that can be limited with the right techniques. Stress can trigger cravings and contribute to the use of drugs in the future, so it is important to address stress right away.

Developing Vulnerabilities

According to the Huffington Post, high levels of stress can contribute to a relapse on drugs or alcohol. It creates a vulnerability for an individual who is trying to abstain.

The causes of stress can depend on several factors. Common causes of stress include:

  • A fast-paced job
  • Family members who have specific expectations
  • School
  • Friendships, particularly in the case of peer pressure
  • Close relationships, such as a spouse or significant other
  • Physical injuries or pain
  • Mental health disorders
  • Complications that occur in any situation

Stress can be caused by a variety of factors, even when loved ones are trying to be supportive. In some cases, the stress is beyond personal control and it may not be possible to reduce the factors that are causing stress. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that stress is the number one cause of addiction relapse and high-stress situations can increase the risk of using a substance to cope with stress.

Getting Stress Under Control

Since the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that the primary cause of a relapse is related to high-stress situations, addressing stress and dealing with the underlying causes can help reduce the risk of relapsing. The best ways to deal with stress ultimately depend on the reason that an individual is feeling upset, nervous, or otherwise stressed.

Regardless of the exact causes, there are some relaxation techniques that can help. Web MD recommends relaxing through simple techniques that can be used at any location and at any time.

Some basic relaxation solutions include:

  • Deep breathing, or taking a breath in slowly and then releasing it slowly
  • Meditating
  • Focusing on the current or present situation
  • Talking to others
  • Exercising
  • Getting a massage
  • Enjoying a hobby

The best way to relax can depend on the location and the amount of time that is available, but any individual can take advantage of the stress relief that occurs after a few minutes of deep breathing or meditating. In some cases, the best solution may also relate to talking or communicating the situation so that it is possible to get help or ask for a slower pace at work.

Impact on Recovery

Stress contributes to substance use, even if it is not the primary cause of the addiction. Feeling tense, worried, or stressed out can make any situation seem worse than the reality.

By taking a few minutes each day to unwind and reduce the level of stress in the body, the complications that are related to substance use can be reduced. An individual is less likely to feel tempted to use a substance and it is easier to stay on track with recovery efforts.

Focusing on personal goals and taking small steps toward those goals can often require stress relief because the tension can take your attention away from your goals. By addressing the stress levels, it is easier to reach for each new goal as it is set.

Relapse prevention is not only related to the triggers that make substance use tempting. It often requires some consideration for the possible factors that may cause tension or stress. By addressing stress levels, the risk of using the substance in the future will reduce and an individual can work toward realistic goals.