Substance abuse is a serious national issue that permeates all social strata. The use of legal and illegal drugs affects not only the users themselves but also their loved ones, their communities, and the federal government. The yearly cost of drug abuse in the United States is around $193 billion. The cost of excessive alcohol consumption at $223 billion, and the cost of cigarette usage at $193 billion. Understanding the effects of addiction on both physical and mental health will aid public health initiatives, regardless of the financial cost. For this reason, today, we will be exploring the interaction between stress, addiction, and poor physical health.
What Factors Into Stress Levels?
It’s important to recognize that there are many causes of stress. Some of the most prevalent sources of stress in our lives are:
- Work, academic, and family commitments.
- Disruptive life events, such as losing one’s job, being divorced, or losing a loved one.
- Experiencing traumatic stress, such as that caused by being a victim of a natural catastrophe or being in any other potentially life-threatening circumstance.
These are quite a few instances when tension may be present. The body’s stress reaction may help us survive in dangerous situations, but it can have negative effects on our health in the long run. The effects of a stressful incident may last for a short time for some people, while for others, they may remain for much longer. However, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, chronic stress can have harmful effects on the brain and body.
The Two Most Common Types of Stress
- Acute stress – Short-term or “acute” stress wears off quite rapidly. Situations like disagreements with a loved one or working tirelessly to fulfill a job deadline may cause a person to experience acute stress. As soon as the stressful incident is done, the body’s stress reaction starts to subside.
- Chronic stress – In contrast to acute stress, chronic stress persists over a longer time frame. Toxic relationships, financial hardship, and prejudice are all usual sources of ongoing stress. Continued mental and physical stress has been connected to health issues in the last several decades.
Alt: A stressed-out person’s silhouette.
Caption: Stress can be acute or chronic, and it can be caused by a variety of factors.
The Correlation Between Stress and Substance Abuse
There is substantial evidence linking stress to an increased propensity toward drug misuse. However, predictions about the effects of different stressors on different forms of substance abuse are, at present, impossible to make. This is because there is little evidence to support such a claim. Any attempts to define relationships between the various stressors and forms of substance abuse only confirm this conclusion. It’s not the case that everyone who has been through a traumatic experience ends up with addiction, and neither is it true that those who struggle with stress are more likely to acquire drug abuse disorders. There is a lack of knowledge on the processes connecting stress and drug misuse. Extreme stress, as well as prolonged or repeated exposure to stress, is known to alter neurobiology, as is long-term drug misuse.
Effects of Addiction and Drug Abuse on Your Body
When one considers how addiction affects one’s body, the interaction between stress, addiction, and poor physical health becomes apparent. The chemical effects of drugs on the body and the brain are well-documented. However, depending on which drugs a person uses, the effects may differ widely. For some addicts, the health effects can be devastating and permanent. Furthermore, as we’ve said before, sometimes they last long after the user has stopped taking the drug. As a result, various drugs pose varying risks. Drugs and physical health issues such as these are fairly common:
- Alcohol: causes a number of health issues, including high blood pressure, stroke, and gastrointestinal distress
- Stimulants: symptoms include irregular heartbeats, fever, elevated blood pressure, and organ failure.
- Opiates: can cause decreased breathing and immune system weakness
- Benzodiazepines: causes Sleep apnea, hypotension, and irregular heartbeats
Each class of addictive substances carries the risk of fatal overdose and painful withdrawal symptoms.
Avoiding the Downward Spiral of Substance Abuse
The occasional use of drugs or alcohol does not guarantee addiction, but if you believe you may be at risk of addiction, it is wise to take precautions. Possible interpretations of this include:
- Self-restraint or limiting one’s own consumption
- Get involved in extracurricular activities that don’t include drugs or alcohol.
- Talking to others in the same boat as you, such as at an AA or NA meeting, may be very helpful.
- Apps for smartphones and tablets may help you deal with cravings and other triggers.
- Consultation with a medical professional about psychotherapy and/or pharmaceuticals
Obtaining Treatment for Addiction Is Essential
Addiction treatment often involves a combination of talk therapy, medication, and ongoing support. One or both in-hospital and out-of-hospital care may be necessary. It’s vital to remember that drug addiction is a long-term illness that requires constant care and attention. In some cases, rehab is covered by Tricare insurance; therefore, if you know your options, you may be able to help yourself, or your loved one overcome this issue. The ability to live a whole and happy life, unencumbered by worries about one’s mental or physical health, is one of the main reasons treatment is so necessary. However, getting sober is not easy and requires much hard work. There will inevitably be some bumps along the way, but with persistence and hard work, it is possible to reach recovery.
So, when it comes to the interaction between stress, addiction, and poor physical health, there is no question that solid connections exist. Taking steps to control these risk factors is an essential first step in prevention. By learning how to manage stress and finding healthy ways to deal with negative emotions, people will be better able to handle the challenges that life brings them. While individuals must identify their sources of stress and look for ways to alleviate it, it is also essential for healthcare professionals to be involved in this process.