Avoiding Stress Rather than Adapting Can Be a Trigger for the Recovering Addict

Posted on June 28th, 2010

Stress affects different people in different ways. Some individuals can handle quite a bit before they buckle under the pressure, while others are at risk of a number of negative side effects from minor pressure in their lives. For the recovering addict, stress can be a trigger that is hard to overcome.

According to a recent Science Daily release, recovering addicts who do nothing to try and cope with stress can more easily succumb to substance use cravings. This reality makes these individuals more likely to relapse during recovery.

As one lead researcher highlighted, cravings are a strong predictor of relapse and the goal of this particular study was to predict the variation in the cravings a person would deal with on a daily basis. Researchers used data from a daily diary study of students in college who were also recovering addicts.

Addicts in this data cope with stress either by working through a problem or avoiding it altogether. The choice between the two is a strong predictor of the likelihood that the individual will experience cravings when having to deal with stress and a negative mood.

Overall, addicts who have developed more adaptive coping skills have a better chance of staying in recovery. Whether a person avoids problems or analyzes them makes a big difference and has a powerful impact on the individual who has worked hard to keep drugs and alcohol out of their lives.

In examining data from 55 college students who were in recovery from substance abuse, the researchers found that variations in the number of cravings across days are predicted by stressful experiences. They also found that the strength of the daily link between experiencing stress and the level of cravings is dependent upon the individual’s reliance on avoidance coping.
 

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