Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Stress

Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Stress

Stress is a part of life and something that you come up against more times than you count.

While some stress is natural, too much of it and too often can become a troublesome trend. According to one survey, 85% of adults in the UK experience stress regularly and the situation over the last two years will have led to many people feeling more stressed and exhausted than ever.

If a person develops chronic stress or stress disorders such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and ASD (Acute Stress Disorder) then this can leave them open to many physical and psychological illnesses. People that deal with chronic stress can experience a lowered immune system, heart troubles, insomnia and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Stress can lead to substance abuse and drug use. Being aware of the signs of both conditions and the clear relationship between substance abuse is the first step to combating the issues.

At Rehab Clinics Group we help people deal with their addictions, alongside offering treatments for stress, anxiety, depression and many other issues.


What Causes Stress?

Stress is a reaction to change or mental or psychological pressure that you are feeling. It’s a daily part of life and the causes of stress are as varied as the personalities of people on earth. Whilst stress has negative connotations, it does exist for a reason. Stress is a great motivator – giving people the prod they need to succeed or in some cases survive a dangerous experience.

Many common causes of stress are work, finical problems, relationships, and major life changes. Internal ones such as feeling a lack of control, negative self-feelings and rigid thinking may point towards deeper mental health issues.

Unfortunately, causes of stress can lead a person into substance abuse or a more dangerous cycle of addiction. Knowing the signs of this occurring might be key in avoiding a potentially destructive situation in your or a loved one’s life.


Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

The symptoms that someone is addicted to substances can vary wildly, depending on the person on the nature of the addiction. Despite this, there are common psychological, behavioural, and physical symptoms that can be recognised.

These symptoms eventually harm the person addicted and the people around – resulting in unpleasant outcomes such as a loss of job, decline in physical and mental health and sometimes even death.

Common psychological signs of substance abuse include:

  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Increased temper/agitation
  • Impaired judgement


Common behavioural signs of substance abuse include:

  • Not willing or incapable of quitting the substance despite the negative effects it is having
  • Sudden change in behaviour – such as becoming more secretive and dishonest
  • Isolating yourself from friends and family and abandoning responsibilities
  • Lack of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Planning life around the addiction e.g., missing out on social events as you cannot indulge your addiction whilst there


Physical signs of substance abuse include:

  • Disrupted sleep pattern
  • A decline in appearance and/or hygiene
  • Visibly unhealthy – a possible sudden change in weight/pale/gaunt look

Recognising the signs and symptoms of substance abuse may push you to release yourself or someone you know needs rehabilitation. Someone experiencing this array of symptoms is bound to be under some stress – making the link between them clear.


The Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Stress

Stress is seen to be a key component at the beginning of substance abuse, continuing the vicious cycle of addiction and contributing to relapse. The easiest link to tie between stress and substance abuse is that people drink or take drugs or gamble to escape the stressors they experience in everyday life.

This is known as self-medicating. While substances will temporarily relieve you of stress, eventually it comes back, and people continue to abuse substances to keep negative feelings at bay.

The irony is that substances will eventually become the thing that causes stress as addiction slowly takes over every aspect of an addict’s life. When in recovery and experiencing withdrawal, many addicts relapse due to the stress they are being put under during this unpleasant experience.

Stress however is not the sole cause of anything – people are as complicated as addiction.

The inability to cope with stress healthily leads people to combat it in other ways, one way being substances. Through learning effective stress coping mechanisms, you can decrease the chance of worsening addiction or help yourself remain sober.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Sometimes people come to experience mental health issues alongside their addiction. When two co-occurring disorders, such as chronic stress and drug addiction, are experienced at the same time – we call this dual-diagnosis.

Oftentimes these separate conditions are closely entwined, being the cause and symptom of the other, feeding into one another until it seems like it all comes under the umbrella of addiction. Sometimes it is hard to realise something is going on beneath your addiction as the separate mental health issues may have developed alongside the substance abuse. To effectively break the separate conditions down and treat you completely, we at Action Rehab recommend undertaking dual-diagnosis treatment at a specialist treatment centre.

The treatment for your addiction and mental health issues will run alongside one another, with treatment options varying depending on your unique situation. To deal with the addiction you can expect to undergo detoxification – purging the harmful toxins from your body and ridding it of its dependency on substances.

Our wide range of therapies including group sessions, stress management and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you to become aware of your triggers and learn techniques to cope. Supplementing this with a nutritional diet, additional well-being therapies and regular exercise you’ll be capable of managing stress much better and giving yourself a better chance at long-term recovery.

Utilising resources such as support groups after receiving treatment will also help with your stress and recovery. Talking about issues and having people to lean on in hard times is shown to relieve stress – this way the stress doesn’t stay inside and grow into something you feel unable to control.


Get in Touch Today

If you have been suffering from stress and addiction issues, and want advice on the treatment options available, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. At Rehab Clinics Group we can help you secure much-needed drug and alcohol addiction treatmentour admissions process is stress-free and we can get you the help you need quickly.

You can reach us by telephone at 0800 470 0382. There is also a contact form on the website, or you can email