Opinion: Stress Not Only Destroys Your Health But Also “Makes You Addicted”

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by Sarah Williams / Contributor

Substance use disorder is not a problem for people with genetic predisposition only. Scientific studies have shown that stress can change the brain and make it vulnerable to addiction. But, modern society is facing more stressors. Major among them come from family, money, and work. This explains why experts in substance abuse suggest that people deal with the cause of these stressors to deal with the increasing cases of stress and addiction.

Essentially, people are living in a perfect environment to develop an addiction because they are facing more stressors than ever. Everybody has triggers that make them think to use drugs, drink alcohol, or eat addictively assuming that this will provide solace. Although scientific evidence has linked addiction to stress, a disparity between how people see and accept comfort eating exists. To some people, drug addiction is a poor choice or a moral failing.

It’s, therefore, not surprising that people abuse drugs trying to deal with stress only to end up struggling with addiction and eventually calling the hotline to get free consultation on drug addiction issues for emergency assistance. This is a phone number that is manned by addiction experts that provide all the assistance that people with addiction problems and their loved ones need. When people call this number, they get all the information they need to decide about addiction. They can also be given details of the available addiction treatment centers.

How Stress Affects the Brain

Research indicates that stress is a common risk factor when it comes to addiction. Researchers have revealed overwhelming evidence showing how stress affects the human brain leading to addiction. What’s more, science has shown that alcohol, drugs, and some food have similar stimulating effects on the reward center of the brain. They can prompt the brain to release dopamine. This chemical is responsible for making a person feel good. When the brain recalls this reward, it seeks out the stimulating substance again.

Unfortunately, repeating the seeking behavior leads to addiction. And before a person knows it, they have reached a level where they can’t survive without the addictive substance. And, to quit the behavior or the addictive substance, they have to call rehab for professional assistance.

People have varying dopamine receptors amounts in the brain. And, the more D2 receptors a person have the higher their natural pleasure and stimulation level. And, the less likely they are to seek comfort food or recreational drugs to compensate.

Research has shown that using addictive substances and stress leads to lower D2 levels even in otherwise healthy study participants. And receptors deficiency continues even after a person quits using addictive substances. That’s why former drug users are discontent and less motivated. These factors are the reason why recovering addicts desire to see the reward from chemicals.

Addiction and Self-Control

Research has shown that when a person is exposed to addictive substances, they lose self-control due to low dopamine receptors that correlate to low activity in their prefrontal cortex. What’s interesting is the experts’ suggestion that even individuals that are hard-wired when it comes to addiction can become develop a dependency on drugs when stressed.

As such, anybody can develop an addiction when faced with higher levels of stress. Ideally, stress makes a person lose self-control when it comes to using addictive substances. That’s why anybody can abuse drugs to a level where their loved ones will have to call the addiction helpline for emergency assistance.

But, experts say that people have different brains based on their social circumstances, zip code, and stress level. And, exposure to stress does not mean that a person will develop a substance use disorder. A person must be exposed to addictive substances or drugs. What this means is that stressors lead individuals to seek solace in addictive substances like drugs and some foods. That’s because these substances prompt the brain to release dopamine. Unfortunately, they create a craving form an increased amount and a person keeps consuming them irrationally.

Consequently, even individuals that are the most self-disciplined tend to fall prey to drug and food addiction when faced with the right mix of stress and adversity. This shows that addiction is not a moral failing or losing self-control. It only highlights the fact that stress plays a significant role in drug addiction.

Managing Stress

A person doesn’t have to wait for stress to push them deeper into an addiction to eventually call the addiction help hotline seeking emergency assistance. Instead, they can manage stress to avoid becoming an addict. Several tools can be used to manage stress.

They include the following:

  • Engaging in stress-relieving activities like yoga
  • Processing feelings and thoughts via writing, blogging, and journaling
  • Attending a support group to express feelings and thoughts in empathetic environments
  • Speaking to friends
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Engaging in relaxing activities

Life can be stressful and challenging. And, using drugs to deal with stress can make things worse. But, this doesn’t mean that a person should let stress lead them to addiction and eventually call the drug hotline number seeking emergency help. Knowing how to prevent or deal with stress can make all the difference.

Image Credit: alphaspirit

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