One main reason people turn to drug abuse or alcoholism is stress – or rather, lack of proper stress management.

When our lives feel ‘out-of-control,’ we tend to feel the same, and look for ways to make ourselves feel better. Substance abuse is a common way to drown sorrows and stresses and even say, ‘I deserve this.’ But substances only make things worse in the long run.

It may sound cheesy, but a peaceful walk outside can do wonders. So can a martial arts or yoga class. Or eating a healthy meal, sleeping in or just plain relaxing. If the alternative to healthy activities is running ourselves down so far we feel the only option is to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, stress management must be a priority.

Effective Stress Management

Stress management, or the failure to effectively manage stress, is something often handed down from parent to child – making it even more important for people who have “learned” to be stressed to learn to effectively manage it so that the vicious cycle is not started, or continued.

We must clear our lives of clutter and simplify. Take time out to rejuvenate. Take a hot shower. Watch a funny movie.┬áPlan ahead: save a good book for when you need to escape; keep a restaurant gift card stashed away for when you’re worried about finances; keep a friend’s phone number with you so you can call them on your commute home on rough days.

However, if the temptation to abuse drugs or alcohol is strong and frequent, professional help will be beneficial. You don’t have to be addicted. Therapy and support groups are the most ideal ways to make positive changes and receive guidance and encouragement from others who understand.

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