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There is no denying the fact that stress can be very damaging to a person’s physical and mental well-being. Stress is common and isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, when a person is unable to handle it effectively it can lead to serious issues. One method a person might be unknowingly using to mask the effects of stress is the abuse of substances such as drugs or alcohol. Often referred to as self medicating, it can easily lead to addiction.

stress and self medication
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Don’t Wait to Get Help

Only you know whether or not you’ve been using substances to gain temporary relief from stress. If you’ve been increasing your alcohol or drug intake just to get through the day, this is a serious problem that you want to address sooner rather than later. There are plenty of programs that offer substance abuse rehabilitation for women and men, which might be beneficial for helping you to deal with your stress and dependency or addiction at the same time.

What is Stress?

Stress is best defined as your body’s way of dealing with a level of demand or threat that is “out of the ordinary”. When you begin to feel taxed, your brain releases stress hormones known as cortisol and adrenaline which cause the body to go into an emergency reaction.

Though the average person can cope with stress fairly easily, enormous amounts of stress or ongoing levels of stress could lead to what is known as chronic stress. Stress is felt at different levels and in different circumstances depending upon the person. This ultimately means that everyone will respond to stress differently and thus show varying physical and mental signs of chronic stress.

Chronic Stress and the Dangers

When a person is under an extreme amount of pressure they can experience what is known as chronic levels of stress. This level of stress can result in physical and mental changes within the body. Some of the dangers of chronic stress might include:

  • Compromised immune system
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Digestive issues
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of concentration
  • Substance dependency or addiction

Self Medication

Self medicating is the process of using substances such as drugs or alcohol to manage the effects of stress. Alcohol and certain drugs, can often act as a depressant giving the body a calm feeling. This in turn helps the individual to feel as if their problems are resolved for the time being as levels of stress tend to go down.

Alcohol and other substances are not to be used as a means for treating stress. Over time, the body will become immune to the amount of substances you’re using which them provokes you to use more and more of the substance to take the feeling of stress away. Once someone who is self medicating becomes dependent upon the substance, it can quickly turn to addiction which leads to another set of serious symptoms and adverse effects on the body. Some of the dangers of using substances to self medicate might include:

  • Addiction – at this point, using the substance is less of a choice and more of a must
  • Increased levels of stress – when a person becomes addicted they will notice that other issues start to occur in their life which causes increased levels of stress. Poor work ethic, financial issues, and destroyed relationships are all consequences of addiction.

Life certainly has a way of weighing on a person; however, there are more effective ways to deal with stress that don’t involve the use of harmful substances on the daily basis. If you or someone you know has been dealing with a great amount of stress lately, seek professional help. A counselor is best equipped to help you find healthy ways to cope that are a lot safer than self-medicating. If you have been self-medicating, you may want to consult with a rehab facility about receiving treatment before it turns into an addiction.