There comes a time in each of our lives when we feel like we’ve come to the end of our rope, that we are too stressed to continue on anymore. It is during critical times like these that we can learn a lot about ourselves, including how strong we are and to what lengths we will go in order to manage stress.
Harmful Ways to Manage Stress
According to researchers, the way a person manages stress can determine whether or not they will develop a substance abuse disorder. Proper stress reduction techniques help eliminate the risk of a drug or alcohol abuse problem. According to a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) survey, people with chronic feelings of anxiety or stress were more likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, and to later develop a substance abuse problem. Twenty-five percent of people in the study used drugs in the previous year to reduce stress, and thirteen percent self-medicated with alcohol.
Many people, when faced with stressful situations, feel like they have no place to turn other than to drink or do drugs. They see self-medicating as a quick and easy fix, and they begin doing it more and more. The problem with self-medicating with drugs or alcohol is that these substances do not take the source of the stress away, and instead, they cause more anxiety and trouble in a person’s life. Substance abuse can negatively affect the mind, it harms the body, and it leads to a host of other consequences. A person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol has little control in their life, and their health, relationships, and finances all suffer.
Healthy Ways to Manage Stress
Drugs and alcohol should never be used to solve a person’s problems. Instead of self-medicating or turning to substances, it is important to learn healthy stress management techniques. Exercise and eating right are easy ways to regulate the body and reduce anxiety. For some people, a long talk with a good friend will help during the tough times. Meditation, prayer, yoga, or other relaxation techniques are also effective ways to reduce stress. If a person is struggling with the urge to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, they should seek the help of a professional counselor or therapist.