Stress, Exhaustion and Addiction

Chronic stress and exhaustion can be precipitating or contributory factors in addiction. They can also be the by-products of addiction and the lifestyle that supports it. Holistic recovery centres base their help on an understanding of these inter-relationships.

Stress Management Programmes Should Look at Demands Versus Fitness

Stress is all about the demands placed on the mental and physical system and becomes distress under two circumstances:

  1. when the system has insufficient capacity (fitness) to cope with the demands
  2. when the demands are of such sustained intensity that fitness is compromised

Trying to keep up with excessive demands while losing the capacity to cope with them, is the perfect recipe for exhaustion or severe burn out. The psycho-biological system is being kept in a permanent state of alarm. There is no respite to allow recovery from exhaustion. Vulnerability to a variety of illnesses increases.

Addictive Substances and Behaviours Used Counterproductively for Stress Relief

People seek to cope with stress or gain relief from it by turning to depressant substances like alcohol, cannabis or tranquilisers and/or to mood-altering behaviours such as binge eating for comfort, compulsive exercise, workaholism or consuming pornography. They may alternatively turn to stimulants like caffeine, amphetamines or cocaine to galvanise the system even further in order to cope. Efforts to prevent reaching the burn-out breaking point may actually hasten its arrival.

Addiction (and indeed co-dependency) is inherently stressful because they operate according to the urging of an incessant, insatiable demand, which is responded to in ways that threaten fitness in various respects, whether directly through intoxication or as a collateral consequence of addictive behaviour.

Prevention and Recovery from Exhaustion – 4-Point Guide

Recognition of the triggers of stress and awareness about characteristic responses that may make the impact worse is a place to start. A person should review their lifestyle to assess the level and intensity of demands under which they are living and their fitness to deal with them. Undertaking this exercise with someone else may work best, including in inpatient treatment centres. It is important to remember that not all demands are external. Some are internal and self-imposed such as struggling to be “good enough”.

  1. Look at fitness in the round, taking in mental, physical and spiritual dimensions
  2. Devise a plan to increase all aspects of health, including sleep, diet and exercise
  3. Take time to attend to this health plan in a meaningfully holistic way
  4. Ensure steps that enhance relaxation are scheduled in

The Benefit of an In-Patient Treatment Programme Integrating Health Therapies

A good rehab centre for addiction or related conditions such as depression should also serve as a stress management retreat. The chances of achieving recovery from exhaustion and the conditions that will have contributed to it will increase if the treatment centre is equipped with or has access to spa facilities such as to be found in a luxury mental health treatment centre or executive drug rehab.

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