How Pathological Stress Affects Addiction

How Pathological Stress Affects AddictionStress is the body’s natural response to problems, because it encourages the body’s protective ‘fight or flight’ response. Acute and occasional causes of stress are usually positive and can motivate people, but overwhelming and chronic stress can zap someone’s coping abilities. When stress exceeds someone’s ability to cope, she has pathological stress that she will want to relieve through any means necessary.

Pathological stress may evolve over time or occur with one major issue. There is no good reason why certain problems cause excessive stress, but issues in relationships or at work can snowball until someone feels overwhelmed. On the other hand, a single traumatic event may cripple someone’s coping abilities, but people who lack support and good coping strategies are more likely to experience pathological stress. However, with professional treatment, these people can recover from stress and any resulting problem.

How Pathological Stress Causes Addiction and Mental Health Issues

People who deal with pathological stress want relief, so they may do anything to feel better. This may include substance abuse and addictive behaviors, because many people turn to alcohol or drugs to unwind after a stressful day at work or even to grieve someone’s death. The problem is that great stress can create problems in all areas of life, from health problems like chronic pain and anxiety, to relationship problems and job performance issues. When a substance or activity can eliminate feelings of stress, people are drawn to it, despite the risks.

Chemically speaking, the regions of the brain that process stress also use chemicals that trigger cravings. For people who in the past have abused drugs to relieve stress, their brains remember that drugs promote temporary relief, so they trigger both chemical and psychological cravings for drugs. Simply put, recovering addicts are programmed to seek drugs, especially during times when pathological stress escalates. Unfortunately, because pathological stress exceeds a person’s coping abilities, many patients are too overwhelmed to practice healthy coping skills, such as therapy, exercise, rest and more so they may succumb to these cravings.

Pathological stress is strongly related to addiction and several mental health disorders, because most people do not seek help until they hit rock-bottom. Therefore, many people with pathological stress avoid professional help until they also develop some psychological problems, like depression. However, some rehab centers address not only addiction, but also the issues that led to addiction, so patients can recover from all of their problems at the same time.

Help for Pathological Stress and Addiction

Your life does not have to be filled with unmanageable stress. If it hasn’t already, pathological stress will cause major problems for your health, wellbeing and overall quality of life, so seek help now before your problems get even worse. If you want to address addiction, stress and any other mental health issue you have, then call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to learn about treatment. Our admissions coordinators can help you find the right treatment services for your individual needs. Their advice and conversations are confidential, so call them now to find you the help you need.