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Addiction as a Response to Stress

Addiction is a widespread disease that manifests as a result of many different factors. However, stress is still a component of everyday life. Without the ability or opportunity to process one's daily stresses, it can continue to build in one's mind before presenting in unhealthy, destructive ways.

Stress is a ubiquitous experience. While there is no way to avoid all stress throughout life, it is important to find a way to acknowledge and process it safely.

Substance use and stress are intimately intertwined as the continued buildup of stress can inform one's decision to turn to addictive substances. However, this can easily lead to the development of unhealthy relationships with drugs and alcohol. It can even cause addiction to set in and exacerbate these feelings to an even more detrimental degree.

The Many Forms of Stress

Stress is a universal experience, but not everyone will experience stress from the same sources. For some, stress is most prevalent as a result of their workplace or professional atmosphere. Unhealthy expectations of oneself, whether self-imposed or through managers and supervisors, can create an unnecessary, unhealthy level of stress.

The anxieties of meeting deadlines, tending to a myriad of responsibilities, or working through long shifts can all build in one's mind. Many of these stresses can also apply to one's academic career, resulting from encroaching deadlines and assignments.

Others may find an exorbitant amount of stress stems from social sources. While those who suffer from social anxiety can feel an excessive amount of stress regarding social interactions, anyone can still feel the stress of these scenarios. Meeting new people, disagreeing with friends, speaking in front of others, and more can all be sources of great stress. The stress of social expectations can also be incredibly difficult to process, such as unhealthy expectations from one's parents or family.

Lastly, stress may also be an internal struggle against oneself. Self-imposed guilt about one's past, personal goals, body image, or other perceived imperfections can all be things an individual may struggle with. These stresses can continue to mount within an individual.

Regardless of the form that a person's stress may take, they can all have detrimental effects on their body and mind. Finding a personal way to process and release stress is essential. Without strategies to direct these intense feelings, the effects of stress will manifest in other ways. This can often result in ill-advised or self-destructive behaviors, with the use of addictive substances being a common result of this pent-up stress.

The Appeal of Addictive Substances

Addictive substances often ingratiate themselves by feigning to be a solution to one's stresses. However, while this notion of hitting the bar after work to relax is common, it is also based on misconceptions and fallacies.

For those experiencing excessive levels of stress, having an easily-available, fast-acting solution to one's feelings can be very enticing. Drugs and alcohol act to hijack the brain and force the release of dopamine, or a chemical in the mind that can help one “feel good” for a moment. However, this kind of forced happiness comes with a myriad of negative, long-term repercussions.

The Dangers of Addictive Substances When Coping With Stress

The constant forcing of a substance can first build tolerance, necessitating more and more of a to be used to attain the same effect. This then forces the individual to ingest more drugs or alcohol.

Additionally, addictive substances do nothing to actually address one's stress. Instead, they only act as a way to pack one's stresses deeper into their mind instead of providing a way to process these feelings.

Without addressing the sources of one's stress in any meaningful way, an individual is allowing these stresses to continue to build. Drugs and alcohol are then left to temporarily mask a still-growing problem.

Addictive substances also create additional, unnecessary stresses in one's life. They can cause the onset of further physical and mental health complications. They can even cause further depression or anxiety when addictive substances are not present or cause an individual to act in ways that make them feel ashamed once the immediate high has worn off.

The Importance of Addressing the Sources of Stress

Addictive substances do little to address the source of stress in one's life. Without addressing these impactful sources, an individual may continue battling with addiction and relapse. Addiction can be a reaction to stress in one's life.

Learning effective and personalized stress relief strategies and self-care is just as important as learning to cope with the symptoms, urges, and cravings of addiction. Recovery is an exercise in transformation within one's life. Embracing the multiple dimensions of change that one needs and managing stress is the first step towards embracing a truly sober future.


Stress and addiction have a complicated and destructive relationship. At Chateau Recovery, we understand the need to address stress in your life just as much as addiction in order to make a wholly transformed recovery. We are prepared to help you recognize the sources of stress in your life – between your personal goals, professional ambitions, and the stresses caused directly by the use of addictive substances – to create a personalized recovery program that is right for you.

Your time with us is filled with proven therapeutic practices, from art, music, and yoga, to nutritional guidance, case management, and much more. Individual, group, and family programs are also available to you, to ensure that your recovery continues to involve those that matter most in your life.

For more information on how we can help you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your situation, call us today at (435) 222-5225.

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