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Drug abuse and stress

Stress is a daily part of life for most of us. We feel stress when we have a report deadline that we have to meet for work, when we are about to give a presentation, when we are late for a meeting, when a family member is sick, when we get into an argument or simply when we are about to take a test. For the most part, stress is quite normal. It is simply your body’s way of releasing the hormones and other necessary resources that you need to respond. In fact, short-term stress is quite beneficial in the fact that it helps you concentrate better.

Finding a connection

Although occasional stress (and in small doses) present no harm to our well-being, long-term stress and post-traumatic stress can have some serious effects on the body. Aside from possibly causing serious diseases, stress can often lead the person to drug or alcohol abuse. If the person has in fact been treated for substance abuse before, a highly stressful event in his life can cause him to relapse or revert back to his old ways.

Separating the myth from reality

In our society where some drugs are considered accepted, and even “hip” (e.g. beer, cigarettes, etc.), it’s very easy for many people to fall into misconceptions and myths about stress and these accepted substances or drugs. One of top myths that need disproving is the idea that drugs like alcohol can relieve stress. Many of us have probably felt that instant ease upon that first swig of beer after a stressful day at work. The truth is that some drugs and alcoholic beverages actually have the same effects on our brains as stress does. You can probably feel this after you have gone beyond your alcohol limit—if you are not passed out already, that is.

Some people also believe that all types of stress is harmful and ironically begin stressing out themselves to relax. As mentioned, some kinds of stress are actually beneficial. Stress before a job interview causes you to prepare, practice and keep your confidence intact.

The teen scene

The same picture of stress and substance abuse is true for teenagers. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse performed a study regarding stress and chemical dependency on teens. They discovered that teens who are experiencing stress or boredom are 50 to 100 percent more likely to experiment with drugs, alcohol and other chemicals.

If you know someone who is undergoing a stressful situation and is turning to substance abuse to cope, talk to the counselors of Miramar.