Learning Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Stress after Addiction

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

For the person struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, an addiction can become a way of avoiding complicated situations or overwhelming feelings and emotions. Life often comes with many complexities and hardships, and for some individuals, an addiction is a means of dealing with these difficulties or pain that may result – no matter how big or small.

When a person addicted to drugs or alcohol begins to recover and move away from these destructive behaviors and patterns, a void often always results where the addiction use to be. It may be difficult to know how to cope or deal with hard situations in life without numbing with a substance of choice.

Much of therapy and recovery involves learning new coping mechanisms to apply to stressful situations that are not physically, mentally, or emotionally harmful.

Stress Is a Triggering Emotion for Addiction

Stress can often be a triggering emotion that perpetuates addiction and addictive behaviors. Many times, when a situation becomes stressful and provokes anxiety or distress, a person may turn to an addiction as an attempt to lower the amount of discomfort they may be experiencing.

Part of recovery is being able to separate emotions from addictions and deal with them productively without avoiding or hiding from feelings with substance abuse.

Therapeutic Techniques for Managing Stress

Young woman sitting on the floor near wall ,doing yogaMany therapeutic techniques can be effective and helpful in managing stress. It is important to work with a professional to find and discover what works best for you. This might involve finding a relaxation technique that helps alleviate or reduce stress, such as meditation or yoga.

Decreasing stress can also be done through simple ways, such as taking a bubble bath, going on a nature walk, or having a relaxing outing with a friend.

Separating Stress from Addiction

The process of learning how to separate stress from the tendency to engage in an addiction can be challenging but is a crucial part of recovery. If your stress levels have become unmanageable and you are unsure how to work through your emotions, consider working with a specialist or professional who can guide you through this process successfully.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you or someone you loved recovered from an addiction? How did you learn to cope with stress outside of your addictive behaviors? What encouragement might you offer to someone learning to overcome stress and addiction?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 1st, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com