Stressors that Can Lead to Drug Abuse

In a 1999 article for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek asserts that recovering drug addicts can refuse the substances they were once addicted to for extended periods of time. Addicts are able to do this even if they are in direct contact with temptation, such as walking or driving past the corner where they used to meet a drug supplier, or spending time with friends they used to do drugs with. However, one stressor can send an addict back into their destructive habit. The cause of stress can be something major, or a series of minor events that become too much to ignore. An addict’s brain is very sensitive, and some people who abuse drugs have an excess of cortisol in their bodies, which travels to the hypothalamus and makes a person feel as though they have to do something to stop the stress right away—even if that means taking extreme measures.

Risks For Drug Abuse

Family problems. When a recovering addict is dealing with family problems such as a divorce (often as a result of the addict’s drug use), this lessens the amount of calming neurotransmitters that the brain receives. For instance, the brain needs serotonin and melatonin for sound sleep and to maintain a calm mood as a coping mechanism for high stress. Someone who has abused drugs for a long time depends on substances to do this job. So, an addict may turn back to his/her drug of choice for comfort when a child runs away from home, or an older family member like a parent or grandparent passes away.

Money problems. Drug addiction leads to financial problems in many cases. When acquiring drugs is the addict’s main priority, he/she will do anything to get their hands on the harmful substance—including buying drugs instead of paying bills, or skipping work for days at a time. If an addict who is attempting to become sober starts to experience serious money problems during recovery, there is a chance that he/she will start using drugs again to cope with the anxiety.

Social problems. Some individuals start taking drugs in order to fit in more socially. For instance, drugs like cocaine and ecstasy can make a person more comfortable in social situations, or provide feelings of extreme friendliness and closeness. So when someone is being weaned from these drugs, social issues like reclusiveness or inappropriate social behavior may occur. The addict may also feel that he/she is being judged in social situations, and could start using drugs again to get over feelings of insecurity.

Pet peeves. Something as small as too much traffic on the way to work, or not being able to find a favorite accessory when getting ready for dinner with friends can lead a recovering addict to start using again. This is because there is an extreme imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, so the addict’s mind will perceive a small matter as a problem that is too difficult to solve.

To ensure that your friend, family member or patient continues his/her journey to sobriety successfully, drug testing kits can be purchased for confidential results in the privacy of your own home. These evaluations will give you the answers you need right away  to determine if more intensive treatment is needed.



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