Stress vs. Drug Abuse

Stress is something we can all relate to in some form.  Have you thought about the connections of stress and drug abuse?

Stress can be defined as an emotional or physical demand or strain (a “stressor”) that causes your body to release powerful neurochemicals and hormones.  These changes help your body gear up to respond to the stressor.

There are different levels of stress:

  • Short term
  • Long term
  • Traumatic Events

Research indicates that people exposed to stress are more likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs, or to relapse to drug addiction.

There is no age limit for stress-related addictions.  Doesn’t matter if you are a pre-teen to a grown adult you are still capable of falling into an addiction if you respond to stress in life with substance abuse of any kind.

What are some Stressing Out Topics are teens face?

  • Being Successful
  • Being “Perfect”
  • Physical Appearance

Then there are myths that we hear but the reality behind them.

Myth vs. Reality

Myth 1: Drug abuse is harmful, but it does relieve stress.
Reality: Some drugs of abuse affect your brain the same way stress does. Long-term abuse of drugs makes users more sensitive to everyday stress than non-users.

Myth 2: All stress is bad for you.
Reality: Stress can help you deal with tough situations. It can also be associated with positive changes, such as a new job. However, long-term stress can lead to physical and emotional health problems.

Myth 3: Everyone deals with stress in the same way.
Reality: People deal with stress in different ways. How you deal with stress determines how it affects your body.

Anyone can learn to manage stress, but it does take practice. Here are some practical tips:

  • Take care of yourself.
    Healthy foods, exercise, and enough sleep really do make you feel better and better able to cope!
  • Focus.
    To keep from feeling overwhelmed, concentrate on challenges one at a time.
  • Keep calm.
    Step away from an argument or confrontation by taking a deep breath. Go for a walk or do some other physical activity.
  • Move on.
    If you don’t achieve something you were trying for, practice and prepare for the next time. Or check out some other activity
  • Talk about it.
    Talking to an understanding listener who remains calm can be very helpful.

“We all must develop healthy ways to manage stress, and avoid turning to drugs or other substances to escape stressful realities.”

—Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse

This awareness message is brought to you in partnership with Empower Tusc.

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