*The majority of people who live with some type of stress addictions never set out to become reliant on whatever it is that they use. An addiction can happen as a way of trying to cope.

But what an addiction does is it only masks what’s really going on. If you’re someone who’s struggling with stress or pain, you don’t have to be put in a position of having to choose an addiction just to make it through your day.

Once you identify the stressors or your pain, you can seek the appropriate help and not only feel better, but you can break the addiction as well. Most people choose to break an addiction because of the way it impacts their lives emotionally, financially and in relationships.

Stress Is a Leading Factor in Addictions

Stress means something different to everyone who experiences it. Stress can be caused by outside influences and can be short-term stress such as job problems, a family situation, moving, financial pressures, or an argument.

Some stress is long term – such as day-to-day living with a stressful situation that’s not going to get better for months or years – like being a caretaker, having a bad job you can’t change, or the death of a loved one.

Stress can also be caused by health or nutrition issues. Low levels of certain hormones can contribute to stress, as can low levels of essential minerals and vitamins. Stress can be in someone’s life but not be constantly activated until something triggers it.

When the stress trigger kicks in, you may feel the physical side effects of stress. These side effects include feeling like there are knots in your stomach, higher blood pressure, rapid heart rate, insomnia, stomachaches, headaches and fatigue. 

Stress can also translate in physical muscle pain or feeling stiff and sore, especially in the area’s of the neck, shoulders and lower back. Living with muscle pain can put additional stress on someone’s life, because it’s just plain hard to try to be happy, motivated and energetic when you wake up to your day with pain, everyday.

Almost everyone will have emotional side effects of stress including anxiety, depression, and mood swings – especially anger or irritation. Dealing with or eliminating the stress can be the first step in helping you manage an addiction.

If the stress is not dealt with before an addiction treatment plan is put into place, there’s a stronger chance that there will be a relapse. What happens whenever stress occurs is that if a person is already overwhelmed, overloaded or their coping mechanism has been depleted, they turn to an activity or a substance for relief.

It often doesn’t matter what the activity or substance is as long as the person feels that it eases the stress. The problem is that whatever relief they feel is only temporary.

Since the stress relief is associated with the activity or substance, they have to continue to engage in the activity or use the substance. After awhile, what happens is that the relief they feel is no longer there.

Their body has become accustomed to whatever it is they’re trying to do to find relief. So then the person has to up the stakes. They have to do more of the activity – like some people turn to exercise as stress relief.

While exercise is good, if used as a stress relief rather than dealing with the cause of the stress, the exercise can take on unhealthy proportions. This is how someone with an eating disorder can become addicted to exercise.

It’s the same way with any substance. A little might help ease the stress in the beginning, but before you know it, you have to take more and more of it just to find the same level of relief.

There are several common addictions that occur when people seek to ease stress or find an outlet for physical or emotional pain.

In a follow-up article we will address the 4 most common addictions stemming from stress or pain management. These are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking (alcohol)
  • Pills and medication
  • Sexual addictions
  • Food addictions

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Stress Addictions Cover

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