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stress in sobriety
May 15, 2018

5 Tools to Deal with Stress in Sobriety


Stress has served as the root cause of a number of different issues within people’s lives, ranging from poor physical health caused by bad diets and lack of exercise to troublesome mental health caused by lack of self-care. Stress is powerful enough to cause even the most put-together individuals to begin doing things such as abusing alcohol and/or drugs to cope.

Regardless of  an individual experiences one stressful event or many stressful events back-to-back, it can be difficult and potentially even impossible for him or her to properly cope with that stress if he or she does not have any healthy coping skills to rely on. Thankfully, when someone who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol reaches out for treatment, they are often provided with a number of different coping mechanisms designed to manage stress.

Today, relapse rates in the United States range between 40 percent and 60 percent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). And while it takes a significant amount of work to help prevent relapse, it is important to place focus on managing stress by applying proper coping skills to help maintain sobriety so relapse does not occur.

5 Tools to Deal with Stress

Stress will occur in your life, no matter how long you have been sober for. Ultimately, there is no way to avoid experiencing stress, even if you are in recovery.

It is no secret that stress is often viewed as the enemy of sobriety, as many people in recovery have a detailed history of abusing drugs and/or alcohol in order to cope with stress. In fact, most people have abused substances because of the stress that has been brought on by poor mental health, trauma, or environmental components. By developing coping skills capable of helping manage stress, however, you can avoid abusing drugs and/or alcohol, maintain your sobriety, and continue your journey in recovery.

Go to a Meeting

12-Step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), serve as the foundation for many people’s sobriety. If you are one of the millions of people who participate in programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, you know that going to these meetings can be extremely beneficial in several different ways. Not only do meetings provide you with the opportunity express your feelings and listen to the thoughts and feelings of others, but it also allows you the chance to de-stress. Through meetings, you can push the reset button by getting outside of yourself, remembering what is important, and freshening up on how to handle stressful situations. You can also speak with your sponsor or another close member of your 12-Step program to obtain guidance on how to push past the stress you are experiencing.

Practice meditation

Meditation has been around for centuries and has served as a way to quiet the mind in even the most chaotic of times. This practice has infiltrated the world of addiction and recovery, as utilizing it can help promote good mental health and positive wellbeing. Now, if you choose to use meditation as a tool to help de-stress, that does not mean that you have to sit cross-legged in front of a Buddha in a quiet room. You can meditate anywhere (even at work!) whenever you are feeling stressed. Today, thousands of different medications are available online or through apps, making meditation even more accessible than ever before.

Participate in physical activity

Physical activity, such as lifting weights, running a 5k, playing a sport, or even just walking around the neighborhood can all produce many different benefits in regards to decreasing the presence of stress. When you exercise, your brain releases dopamine, which sends signals of reward and happiness throughout the body. So, not only are you physically releasing negative energy that has entered your body and mind, but you are also helping change your mood by moving about. As a result, you can begin feeling less stressed and more clear-headed so that you can begin to calmly address the stress that you are feeling and move on from it as quickly as possible.

stress in sobriety

Manage your time

Stress loves nothing more than to develop when things are chaotic and unorganized (think of the quote “life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”). So, if your days are unplanned or packed to the brim with activities and places to be, you are more likely to experience stress. However, if you make an effort to manage your time in ways that allow you to have as seamless of a day as possible, then you are less likely to struggle with stressful situations. Making a conscious effort to schedule your life in a manner that best suits you can help you in the long run.

Develop a support system

After spending time addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, you might have to work extra hard to re-establish relationships with people who can serve as your support system (e.g., your parents, siblings, or close friends). However, even by taking small baby steps to help strengthen those relationships, it is important to include them in your support system. Your support system can also include people you’ve met in treatment or through 12-Step programs. Regardless of how big or small your support system is, it is important to have people to lean on when you are having trouble coping with stress. Simply venting with a loved one can help your stress levels decrease dramatically, and also getting advice from those loved ones can also help.

Get Help Today

Relapse is a very real concern for anyone who has gotten sober, and those who are in recovery should always be prepared for it to occur. The best way to prevent relapse is to identify your triggers related to stress and strive to develop skills that work to negate that stress.

Reaching out for professional treatment can help you learn what coping skills can help you manage your stress and in turn, maintain your sobriety. You can work in individual and group settings to help develop these skills, then work to apply them to real-life situations. Professional treatment can also connect you with others that have already developed their own skills and who are willing to share what they have learned.

So, if you are currently grappling with substance abuse or addiction, do not allow one more day to go by. Contact us today so that we can help you on your road to recovery.

You are not alone, and you deserve the treatment that will save your life. Call us right now.