Ignoring Stress Can Trigger Relapses

Researchers at Penn State University have found that post-treatment addicts who practice avoidance coping tactics to deal with stressful situations are twice as likely to have strong craving as addicts who deal with stress directly.

Going through an addiction treatment program is an incredibly stressful time in a person’s life. However, maintaining one’s sobriety is also an incredibly difficult challenge which can put anyone under a tremendous strain. Many people initially turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with the problems in their lives. Dealing with the stress of daily life plus trying to resist temptation and stay clean and sober is a tall order for any recovering addict after leaving drug rehab.

New research suggests that developing coping mechanisms for daily stress is a key element to how successful people will be in maintaining their sobriety after leaving alcohol or drug rehabilitation. Researchers at Penn State University shows that recovering addicts who fail to properly deal with stressful situations in their normal lives are vulnerable to succumb to cravings.

The findings came after researchers reviewed excerpts from the daily diaries of college students who were recovering addicts attempting to reintegrate themselves into their normal lives after a stint in a rehab program. Palm Pilots were provided to 55 college students post-treatment and they were asked to record their cravings along with negative social feelings and strategies for coping with their problems.

After reviewing the test subject’s diary entries, researchers discovered that there was a connection between the amount of stress in a person’s life and their cravings. More importantly, they were able to determine a link between relying on the type of negative “avoidance coping” that addiction treatment centers caution against and giving in to cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Researchers found that while any additional stress can place a person at risk of a relapse after leaving a rehab center, not dealing with stressful situations only intensifies the cravings. Researchers found that a person who avoids dealing with stress in their lives is twice as likely to have strong cravings for drugs and alcohol as someone who deals with stressful situations directly.