How Stress Management Can Aid Rehab

How Stress Management Can Aid Rehab

One of the main goals of addiction treatment is to help addicts control difficult feelings while they practice life in sobriety. This task not only makes rehab pleasant, but it also allows recovering addicts to concentrate on what they are learning. To that effect, stress management has become an integral part of addiction recovery programs. The relationship between stress and addiction is easy to understand, as unmanaged stress is one of the most common causes of substance abuse.

As MedlinePlus states, stress is a normal bodily reaction to dangerous or overwhelming experiences, and it can be beneficial in certain situations. However, chronic stress becomes a problem when anxiety lingers for a time, from weeks to even months. Some reasons for chronic stress are as follows:

  • Constant family problems
  • Financial difficulties
  • Health issues
  • The inability to find and hold a job
  • Keeping an illegal practice
  • Alcohol abuse or drug addiction

With chronic stress, people may develop emotional and physical symptoms that can cause even more anxiety.

How Addiction Worsens Anxiety

It is a mistake to believe that anxiety and addiction can be treated separately, because anxiety often causes addiction, and addiction only worsens anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 20% of people who suffer from an anxiety disorder also suffer from alcohol or drug abuse. Furthermore, stress and excessive drug abuse are a bad combination. High levels of stress can cause overwhelming anxiety, so people may resort to alcohol and other drugs to deal with their negative emotions. As a result, she is at risk of overdosing after ignoring her mounting stress and anxiety.

For those reasons, rehab centers typically have elaborate programs that teach patients to manage stress. Through therapy and different activities, patients learn how to lower their levels of stress in ways that they like. Providing the patients with good information about anxiety and recovery is usually followed by improved results during the sessions.

Stress Management and its Role in Addiction Recovery

Many studies throughout the years have influenced the way treatment professionals teach stress management in rehab centers. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published research that analyzes the role of stress as a vulnerability to addiction: it states that drug seeking is an effect of chronic stress when someone is trying to stay sober. In 1999, The National Institute on Drug Abuse published the link it found between drug addiction and stress—according to the study, drug use can affect the way the brain releases chemicals, which puts the body in a state of stress. While this process is normal in healthy conditions, long-term drug abuse can make the stress system hypersensitive to all situations, which means people will experience constant relapses and more drug abuse. Studies such as these show the importance of teaching recovering addicts to manage stress in addiction treatment, because, many addicts have trouble dealing with stress not only before rehab, but also after rehab when stress is guaranteed to occur again.

Building Stress Management Skills

Stress management can be an educational processes, but also a physical one. During therapy sessions, patients learn about stress and anxiety, as well as how to manage problems effectively. These sessions might first focus on what causes stress in the patient’s personal case, and then they may brainstorm ways patients can calm down every time such problems happen.

Physical sessions of stress management combine therapy with physical activities. For example, some rehab centers offer hiking, biking, exercising, yoga and other similar activities for two reasons. First, these activities reduce stress, and they also teach patients that they can continue these activities during addiction recovery, that is outside of rehab.

However, some drug addicts have already modified their stress systems to problematic levels. Patients with severe cases of stress and anxiety may need more than therapy to control their negative emotions, at least during the first stages of recovery. Another study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism touches on the relationship between stress and addiction—it explains that some patients have such constant internal stress that they trigger drug craving and anxiety while they also endure the stress that comes from everyday life. The publication states that such people begin abusing alcohol and drugs solely to avoid negative emotions. These people will need long-term help to get and stay clean from drug abuse.

There is no doubt that stress management is a crucial part of an effective rehab program, so look for those programs when you seek treatment. By encouraging good heath in both body and mind, patients can direct all of their efforts to addiction recovery while they also believe that sobriety is both possible and rewarding.

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