Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a health diagnosis or the death of a loved one can trigger the onset of stress. A limited amount of stress can be beneficial short-term as it’s a body’s natural response to difficult situations and allows many to cope and overcome strong emotions and events that can feel debilitating. However, long-term, stress can be extremely detrimental to your health. Many may feel a need to self-medicate through alcohol use in order to deal with ongoing stress. It doesn’t have to be this way. In this article, we’re reviewing various ways on how to deal with stress without alcohol.
Stress & Alcohol Use
Americans are among the most stressed-out populations in the world. Drawing from Gallup’s 2018 data on emotional states, over half of the American population experiences stress during the day. This is 20% higher than the world average of 35%. How does alcohol solve this problem, even if superficially? Drinking alcohol slows the activity of the central nervous system. For those who are feeling stressed, anxious, uptight, or nervous, alcohol creates feelings of relief, relaxation, and lessens anxiety. Alcohol tends to reduce inhibitions. For those who are nervous, shy, or uncomfortable in a crowd those feelings are alleviated. Alcohol doesn’t solve your problems but it is a way to avoid them. In essence, drinking is more an avoidance technique than a coping strategy.
With these “feel good” results of alcohol use, it is little wonder that alcohol use is so high. Alcohol.org calls alcoholism one of the largest of America’s health crises.
Alcohol does not help individuals to overcome stresses in everyday life and may exacerbate the underlying issues causing stress. It’s important, instead, to find resources, tips, and programs that can help prepare individuals for dealing with everyday events that may trigger stress. Contact us directly 855-281-5588 to learn more about how our evidence-based dual diagnosis center can treat both alcohol use and underlying stress triggers.
Impacts of Ongoing Alcohol Use
Alcohol abuse affects people of both genders, all ages, and every socioeconomic level. A Mayo Clinic study examined the physical, mental, and emotional problems related to alcohol. The study looked at patterns including problems controlling drinking, preoccupation with alcohol, and continued use of alcohol in the face of health, financial, social, family, and career crises. While alcohol may feel like a temporary way of relieving stressful situations, it can cascade into other short- and long-term issues, which ironically may continue the cycle of ongoing stress. In addition, alcohol can cause significant health issues and negatively impact the body in a number of ways. It’s important, therefore, to know how to deal with stress without alcohol use.
Alcohol Use & Mental Health
The Centers for Disease Control found that six Americans die every day as a result of binge drinking. Colorado ranks 45th among states in alcohol-related deaths, according to The Commonwealth Fund. As a metro city, Denver has higher rates of alcohol abuse than places like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Austin. For ongoing mental health issues, many Americans decide to treat symptoms by self-medicating with substance use and alcohol. Alcohol was more frequently chosen to address mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, and more.
A study conducted by NizNik Behavioral Health found the most common substance used to self-medicate mental health issues was, in fact, alcohol. More than 77% of those who had seen a physician used alcohol to self-medicate, while 81.5% of those who hadn’t seen a physician did the same. Since alcohol use can cause more stress, anxiety, and depression, using it to self-medicate can lead to a vicious cycle that veers far from helpful treatment methods. In order to know how to deal with stress without alcohol, it’s important to understand what stress is and the triggers that can set someone on a path of self-medication.
Better Ways to Cope with Stress
We all have stressors in our lives. There’s no magic cure. You can’t eliminate stress. But you can learn healthy ways to deal with it. Many of these suggested by Skillsyouneed.com are practical, simple strategies we can all employ.
- Avoid caffeine. It’s a proven fact. Some people can’t start their day without that jolt caffeine sends coursing through their system. Without it, they feel withdrawal symptoms. Instead of alcohol and caffeine, try substituting such beverages as diluted fruit juice, herbal tea, and water with a squeeze of lemon. These provide hydration and help your body to deal better with stress.
- Listen to those “flight or fight” hormones. Our brains are hard-wired to fight or run. Stress is rarely relieved by either reaction. When you feel tense, anxious, angry, or stressed bet your body moving. Swim, run, jog, skip, go a few rounds with a punching bag, take up kickboxing. Do something you enjoy each day to burn off stress.
- Get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Your body needs it. Sleep analysts have discovered that those who do not get enough sleep are more stressed.
- Try mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Take up yoga or Tai Chi. Try self-hypnosis. Listen to relaxation music. Meditate. Give guided visualization a try. Keep looking until you find the relaxation strategy that works best for you. Don’t give up. Relaxation requires practice but it has great dividends.
- Stress can mess with your mind. It can shatter your confidence and make you doubt your judgment. Talk to someone. A trusted friend, a mentor, a colleague, or a trained therapist can help you deal with the harmful emotional effects of stress.
- Keep a stress journal. Make note of the date and time of the stress event. Include what you were doing and who was present. Describe how you felt. Use this information to look for common triggers. When we know these we can better deal with or avoid these triggers.
- Use creative problem-solving techniques to devise constructive ways to handle stressful events or people.
- Organized people are less likely to get stressed. Like Boy Scouts, they are prepared for emergencies and challenges. Learn and apply time management skills. These will save you time. You’ll feel more confident—and less stressed—because you are prepared.
- Be selfish with your time. Don’t take on jobs when you know you don’t have time. That’s just setting yourself up for stress. Put things in priority. Agree to do the things you really care about. Use time management skills to allot specific time for those challenges.
- Take good care of yourself. Eating nutritious foods. Do something to move your body for at least thirty minutes every day. Get at least eight hours of sleep. Give yourself time off when you feel physically or mentally unwell.
Why Choose AspenRidge?
If you have made the decision to seek professional help for your alcohol addiction, you’re not alone. The Colorado Health institute survey noted that one in five Colorado adults drinks to excess.
AspenRidge Recovery facilities provide the highest quality alcohol abuse and mental health treatment in Colorado. Our rehab and recovery centers offer a supportive community atmosphere. Trained, board-certified counselors use evidence-based therapy options and seek to address co-occurring disorders. Our treatment options are custom designed to fit the unique needs of each patient.
Our Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs
AspenRidge offers a variety of treatment options. Together with you and your family, your case counselor will explain each of the program options and help you find the one that meets your needs. Our dual diagnosis treatment program in Colorado include:
- Day Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): This is our highest level of care. This is a 90-day treatment program with 15-30 hours of treatment per week that includes recovery residences and psychiatric support. Patients coming to the program may undergo detox and then begin treatment.
- Day Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP): IOP offers patients the flexibility to continue work or family obligations while getting treatment. Our Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program is often 90 days with about 10 hours of therapy each week and includes psychiatric support.
- REACH IOP: AspenRidge also offers an online IOP option that provides the same level of care as our in-person option. Mail-in and DNA tested UAs also provide an added layer of accountability.
- Outpatient Treatment: Usually, this type of treatment is for individuals who have already gone through an IOP or inpatient program. Rarely do patients new to recovery begin with this program. This level of care can be up to 180 days and about 5 hours of therapy per week.
- Alumni Support: Once an individual completes treatment, they still may need help transitioning back to their everyday life. Our alumni support program helps clients stay true to their sobriety by offering resources and community support from peers.
There are several treatment options available for those undergoing recovery. Each program is part of a continuum of care and our admissions staff can help you determine which level of treatment is right for you. The purpose of each is to not only address the physical and mental health issues surrounding addiction but also provide patients with the resources they need for a lasting recovery. Working alongside our therapists, patients will develop a treatment plan appropriate for their unique needs.
Need Online Support?
Aspenridge’s REACH program in Colorado is an Intensive Outpatient treatment program, completely online. Our licensed therapists use private video counseling to help you attain sobriety and thrive in life. Our evidence-based treatment includes individual, group, and family sessions – all from the privacy of your own home.
We urge individuals and families that are dealing with ongoing stress to seek professional support services designed to help alleviate these symptoms. Knowing how to deal with stress without alcohol is an important life skill that can help many Coloradans overcome mental health concerns and help prevent the slough of issues that occur in conjunction with alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Call us now at (855) 281-5588 to talk to one of our admissions representatives and find out if AspenRidge addiction treatment programs in Colorado are right for you!