One of the primary triggers for drug use is stress. When you’ve just had an argument, when there’s more work than time, when there are bills to pay but no money, you might turn to a holding a drink in your hand. You might reach for a joint. Or you might end up calling a friend to meet you at the bar.
Finding Ways to Cope
But when you’re sober, these options simply can’t be within your scope of choices. If you really want to stay clean, if you really want to avoid drug detox and addiction treatment, then you’ll need to find other ways to cope. You’ll need to find ways to relax and relieve stress that are healthy and more life affirming and that will not leave you needing addiction help.
Below are some options for relieving stress as permanent replacements for drug and alcohol use:
- Exercise. This releases endorphins and promotes emotional well-being. You can even try running in place, jumping rope, or walking around the block if you are at work or have any time limitations.
- Step outside. Enjoy the sun and fresh air. You might try to find a beautiful view or landscape.
- Practice yoga. Yoga is a practice, a form of exercise, which invites an integrated experience of body and mind. Its effects can be experienced immediately as well as over time.
- Practice meditation. Meditation is also a very calming practice that can also produce healing experiences. Although meditation might be difficult at first, the challenge at the beginning is worth the rewards.
- Breathe deeply. Deep breathing can be an essential tool, particularly right in those intense moments that might otherwise lead to relapse.
- Play with your dog or cat. Pets can creating a feeling of being loved and needed. When we spend time with them we can easily feel their love for us and this alone can help us relax.
- Listen to music. Soft and relaxing music can influence mood. If you’re feeling stressed, listen to music that is slow and calming.
- Light a scented candle. You can do more than just light a candle. You can create an ambiance in a room to feel more at ease by also lighting incense, playing music, lowering the shades, and making your favorite tea.
- Use scents to relax you. Breathe in the scent of fresh flowers or coffee beans, or savor a scent that reminds you of a favorite memory. Use your sense of smell to create a more relaxed inner experience. For instance, smelling the scent of sunscreen might remind you of being on vacation or being at the beach.
- Use guided imagery. If you have a CD of a meditation, use that to take yourself into a dreamy place to relax your body and mind. Or you can simply close your eyes and picture a peaceful place, such as a sandy beach or waterfall. Or think of a fond memory, such as your child’s first steps or time spent with friends.
- Make yourself a steaming cup of tea. Teas like chamomile or peppermint can help relax the body.
- Use humor. You can laugh with your friends. Using humor can lighten up any situation, and laughter boosts the immune system.
- Rely on your spirituality: A belief in a higher power can be a great comfort when stressed. In whatever way that feels comfortable for you, reaching out to a higher power can provide a sense of relief and consolation.
- Look at favorite family photos.
- Give yourself a neck or shoulder massage.
- Soak in a hot bath or shower.
These are a list of ways to feel better and to relieve stress you might be feeling in any particular moment. Instead of turning to drugs and triggering a relapse resulting in the need for addiction help, try the techniques above.