According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stress is the number one trigger to substance abuse. Keep in mind that each person’s idea of stress may be very different than that of another.

Getting laid off is stressful enough, but having to tell your wife you were laid off is probably stress of a whole different, higher level.  Many people start drinking or doing drugs because it temporarily relieves stress for them.  And while one can’t avoid all forms of stress, lifestyle, relationship and/or work changes can help a recovering addict avoid situations that can spark tension and any negative emotions that can be associated with relapse.

In order to avoid or control stress, identification of the stressful areas is key.  Those who cannot identify these areas of stress stand a poor chance for success when it comes to recovery.  Other than the common “don’t have enough money” or “don’t like my job” there are probably other more hidden, elusive sources of stress which may not be apparent going not only unnoticed but unaddressed.

If you can identify the stress triggers you have, make up a plan on how you will deal with them when they arise.

  • Example:  Every time I run into my ex, without saying anything directly, she makes me feel bad about myself.
  • Handling: try not to get into a position where you run into your ex alone and if you do, do not engage in any conversation, politely excusing yourself.

If you cannot clearly identify the triggers, isolate the things in your life that cause you to worry or think over and over about.  Most of the time, when you are indecisive and cannot make a decision about something, there is a source of underlying stress you should look for and isolate.  You can also make a list of all the areas where you have a recurring problem you cannot solve or areas of life you feel you cannot reach your goals.  There you will find an underlying source of stress.  That source may be a person who does not want you to reach your goal or an area of life where you have messed up before and those errors are burdening.

Once you have specific areas to address, work in the direction of solving the problems in order to gain control of life and so you are not controlled by it.  But remember, as an addict you have caused destruction to your family and friends, so when you solve your problems to be in control, make sure you are not creating problems for them.  It may be an artful task, but you have to work in the direction of being in control of your life while not placing others at effect.

One of the most important, if not the most important tool to apply throughout all of this is communication; to your loved one, to your counselor, to the person whose advice you trust. You will find if you can communicate about your difficulties, you will be in a better position to solve them

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