How to Identify and Overcome Addiction Stressors

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Like all things in life, there is no quick-fix, no miracle cure – recovery takes time and effort. Thankfully though, there are tools and strategies you can use to make the path easier. When you’re working towards sobriety and longing for the freedom recovery brings, knowing your triggers can be the key to overcoming addiction.

In this article, we’ll look at the most common addiction causes, how to identify your own and how to conquer them on your journey to substance-free living.

How addiction develops

The development of addiction is a complex process and there is no single cause. There are many factors that contribute to or exacerbate substance use issues, such as genetics, childhood events, personality traits and the environment you work and socialize in.

Within addiction, an individual’s brain circuitry is rewired by the substance. Pleasure, memory and reward centers are rerouted so that the body craves the positive effects of the drug and ignores the consequences.

While there is no single cause for the onset of addiction, there is often a single stimulus (an event, a place, a person, a thought) that can trigger a bout of substance use. 

When a trigger is present, this new neurological pathway causes a person to hyperfocus on obtaining the substance. Combatting these triggers is key to unwiring those pathways and breaking the addiction.

How to identity stressors

There are several steps to identifying addiction stressors, and you’ll likely have to work through the process several times in recovery. The first step is to have a place where you can track your progress. Many people elect to use an addiction journal, a planner or to review their work in therapy sessions.

Next, you’ll want to identify how you’re feeling when you feel the urge to use drugs or alcohol. Do you feel bored? Lonely? Stressed? Depressed? Knowing the emotions that lead to substance abuse will allow you to be on guard when the craving strikes so you can do something before it’s too hard to resist.

It will also be helpful to identify certain people, places and things that feed your addiction. Make note of social circles that pressure you to use, or even individuals who cause you stress (which then leads to substance use).

Are there certain places, like a relative’s house or a restaurant that bring up bad memories? What about photos or keepsakes that make you feel unhappy? Add triggers to your list as you notice them. You can’t necessarily avoid all your triggers, but having awareness of them will help you to prepare and cope when encountering them is inevitable.

Common addiction triggers

Everyone’s addiction stressors are different, but here are some of the most common addiction causes.

  • Job loss
  • Death of a loved one
  • A breakup or divorce
  • Being the victim of a crime
  • An illness
  • Depression or another mental illness
  • A car accident
  • Legal trouble
  • Loneliness
  • Debt
  • A family member’s declining health
  • An injury
  • Relationship issues
  • Suffering abuse

How to take control of your addiction stressors

Once you’re aware of your triggers you can find ways to alleviate the tension and avoid substance use. You’ll need different skills in the moment of pressure and in the long term. Typically, these immediate stress-relievers are called coping strategies, and a healthy lifestyle can help you to eradicate triggers from your life.

Coping strategies: deep breathing, taking a walk, calling a friend – these are all things you can do in the moment when difficult situations crop up. Make a list of coping skills you can use when you’re tempted by drugs or alcohol and practice them beforehand.

A healthy lifestyle: good exercise, diet, sleep, healthy relationships and more all combine to make recovery more attainable. When you feel good about your body and your life you’ll be more motivated to stay sober and avoid triggers, and you’ll have the mental clarity to do so.

Getting help

When you’re ready to leave addiction behind, enlist the help of mental health professional. When you work with someone who is an expert at identifying addiction causes and teaching skills to manage them, your recovery will be accelerated and you’ll get a taste of freedom sooner than you would on your own.

At The Light Program, you’ll get the care and support you need to conquer your triggers. With a variety of programs and flexible scheduling, there’s no reason to wait. Call now at 610-644-6464.