We all experience stress in one way or another. Physiological responses to challenges in everyday life can be positive – enabling us to overcome them and facilitating the fight or flight response in more extreme circumstances.

Nevertheless, too much stress can cause some harm, since there is evidence that there is a connection between stress and drug or alcohol addiction. Stress can trigger substance abuse, which can then lead to addiction.

Further stress can then be created, contributing to a vicious cycle. Without expert help, such as a period of rehabilitation, it can be very difficult to break free from addiction. Addiction and stress often go hand in hand, and our therapies can help you to deal with these interrelated issues and reach full and lasting recovery.


The effects of stress 


Stress can have a massive effect on your physical and mental health. Some symptoms of stress could include: 

  • Headaches 
  • Stomach issues
  • Muscle pains & tensions
  • Forgetfulness
  • Feeling overwhelmed 
  • Chest pains 
  • Constant worrying

Also listed on the NHS website are changes in behaviour, such as irritability, an inability to sleep or eat adequately, avoiding certain people or places, and drinking or smoking more. These are symptoms very relevant to the issue of potential drug or alcohol addiction.


The connection 


Drug addiction does not happen to everyone who uses drugs, which include legal ones like alcohol and nicotine, but anyone who uses addictive substances runs a real risk of becoming addicted.

Some people have said they started to drink or increased their drinking when stressed out, with some saying they had started increasing their smoking levels. 

People who suffer from high levels of stress, or chronic stress, may use drugs or alcohol for managing their symptoms. It is possible that people with difficulties managing stress, poor coping mechanisms, and an inability to control impulses may be at a higher risk of using drugs as a result. The effects of drugs are temporary and can provide an escape from reality while intoxicated.

The risk of drug misuse or addiction is increased for those who are exposed to chronic or acute stress or who suffer from a stress disorder. You may need a drug or alcohol rehab program if you have developed an addiction as a result of stress.


Ways to help


You can reduce your stress levels in a number of healthy ways. Healthy eating and exercise might not provide a ‘magic bullet,’ but they can help reduce stress symptoms. It can also be helpful to make time for yourself, learn to say ‘no’, and talk to your friends, family, and others in your support network. 


If you do develop a drug or alcohol addiction in relation to stress, at Parkland Place we can help and provide tools for learning healthy coping mechanisms and stress management methods with your rehab programme, which can be beneficial in sustaining sobriety and keeping a more balanced life. Contact a member of our team today to start your recovery journey.