How To Cope With Stress From Addiction

Addiction is very stressful. Whether you are the one in active addiction, or watching a loved one go through it. Addiction is a disease. A family disease. I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to coping with stress from addiction. I grew up in an alcoholic home and I also was in active addiction for 14 years.

Now at age 48 and almost 24 years clean and sober. I would like to share with you the stress I went through and how I coped with it. If you’re reading this, chances are you have been effected one way or the other. It is possible to cope with stress from addiction and here’s how.

Product of Your Enviroment

We either grow up resenting how we were raised and make a conscious choice not to follow in the same footsteps as our parents. Or we subconsciously choose a path that mirrors the one we grew up watching. In my case for 14 years I was in active addiction with drugs and alcohol. I was definitely out of control and my life was unmanageable.

When, we realize what path we are on, I think it’s important to look for change, a better way of life, instead of being a victim of our own circumstance. A product of our environment is not a product of who we are destined to become.

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Sometimes we all get to a point in our lives were we had enough. Were something is just not working anymore. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. For me I had to walk through the fire to finally realize that addiction wasn’t dealing with my problems, only my symptoms.

This can also be true if you are not even the one using or drinking. My mother who was my biggest enabler became tired of the repetitive, insane behavior and said and I quote “The gig is up”

I want to share with you not only how I was able to create a better life for myself, but also become a stronger person both spiritually and emotionally. Here’s how I did it.

Awareness Is The First Step

Not everybody has to walk through the fire, but sometimes we figure out the solution by living in the problem. When we are aware of the problem, we can start living in the solution.

Awareness is the key. We can’t change if we don’t know what’s wrong. We have to be honest and open-minded in order to become aware. If you are not honest with yourself then you’ll continue to justify your stress and rationalize your behavior.

If you are stressing over a loved one it’s important to realize that addiction is a disease and there not a bad person just a sick person. Make sure you know that this is not your fault. Addiction is not prejudice. Addiction is a choice, a learned behavior. I was a product of my environment but I still made a conscious choice to pick up

Time To Take Action

Ok so we realize that our life has become unmanageable, so now its time to try something new. Nothing has worked in the past, so it’s time to change everything around us. The people we hang out with, the places we go. Time to try knew things. There’s a policy I lived by in the very beginning. Try a knew way of life for six months and at the end of it, if you’re still not happy we’ll gladly refund your misery.

As a loved one remember to be supportive but never enable the person you’re trying to help. This can be stressful at times. I know its hard to watch someone you love suffer, but sometimes they need this in order to get better. It’s tough love. So love them the right way. Don’t love them to death.

One Day At A Time

Just like addiction, we have to take stress one day at a time, one moment at a time. Stress is a direct result of what’s happening around us. Things we can’t change. The only thing we can change is the way we react to it. This happens to be the pivotal factor in coping with stress. When we can’t change it then we have to accept it. We don’t have to agree with it, we don’t have to like it, but we have to accept it.

Happiness is an inside job. So as long as were not getting caught up in what we can’t change, Then we can start to gain confidence and have the courage to change the things we can.


Support System

Having a support system, or someone to talk to on a regular basis is very important. I never expressed my feeling and as a result I buried them until the pain was so great I had to self medicate. Talking about your feelings is one of the most effective ways of coping with stress. Discussing your problems with someone who has been through what you have can be very liberating and validating.

No Stress From Addiction

Once you are clean from what ever your drug of choice was. Alcohol, drugs, food e.t.c. The stress goes away because you no longer have active addiction and all the stress that comes with it. Sure we are always faced with a new set of problems but that what makes us stronger. Have you ever been through something so bad and came out the other side with more courage and wisdom?

My mother was a big part in my recovery. It was Nov 14,1996 at 7:45 pm when I knew my gig was up. I was done, I was suffering to long in active addiction. I knew I had a long road ahead but it was exciting. My mother who had stopped enabling me six months prior to this spiritual awaking was a direct result of me facing some hard times. This is tough love. It was what helped me get clean and sober.

Stress is a choice, or reaction we have to something. If we can learn to be conscious or aware of our state of mind, then we have a much better chance to respond instead of react. That my friends is going to bring our stress way down!!

14 thoughts on “How To Cope With Stress From Addiction

  • You bring up lots of valid points there. Especially regarding family and the effect it has on those on the side line watching. I would just like to add for those in the support role, its not your place to judge or throw in ‘you’re your own worst enemy’. It doesn’t help!
    100% agree its what you do daily, that will bring about change and a change in environment is an important factor.

    • Thank you Pam. Yes sometimes its easy to judge when you are frustrated.I know my mother wasn’t happy with me a lot of the times but it was because she thought I was bad and not sick. Once she became more educated about the disease and how it is a family disease.She was able to help and not judge.

  • Wayne, I feel you man! What a wonderful article on turning a really tough situation around….I had a similar situation with my youngest son, and lost him because he OD! It’s been over 6 years now, and each day gets a little better being without him. My saving grace are my 2 other children. Thank you for sharing……

    • Hey Terry so sorry for your loss man.I have a 10 year old daughter I cannot imagine your pain. I shouldn’t be alive but I am and all I can do is share my strength and wisdom. Your welcome and thank you for sharing

  • Great post! I know that the majority of stress in my life comes from not dealing with problems head on. I end up procrastinating and avoiding people, and then self medicating to avoid my guilt from procrastinating.
    I am finding that setting goals has helped me alot.
    Do you think you started drinking because it was an acceptable way to be or were you avoiding other issues? I am not trying to be personal, just wondering how many addicts are ‘avoiding’ issues rather than just trying out drugs and alcohol and getting caught up that lifestyle.

    • Hi Irma thank you. The answer to your question from my experience is yes and yes.I believe anyone who isn’t totally comfortable in their own skin will self medicate. We might not know this at the time but its escaping our reality and in the process we get caught up in the lifestyle. It’s only when we realize this that we want change. One of the hardest things I ever did it was like learning how to live all over again. I can remember watching people smile and wanting that so much. Fake it till you make it so I did. Thank you for the great question. I hope that helps.

  • Thanks for the post, it is good to know that it’s all just a process and some choose to do this process of life by finding ways to cope and that is ok, because at some point, sooner or later, they find other ways to cope that take their attention from the old ways of coping… Thanks again. Namasté!

  • Congratulations on 24 years, that is a huge effort. I have only been addicted to smoking tobacco and I gave that up over 30 years ago. Even that was tough and it took two go’s. I could still easily smoke again, especially when I am stressed, but I remember how hard it was to stop.

    This is an excellent article thanks.

    • Thank you Luigi, I gave up smoking a year after. I have learned that its not smoking that make us not stressed. Its the exhale. Its all phycological.When I feel stressed breathe and meditate.

      Thank you very much

  • A timely post for myself. I’ve been contemplating my life and also substance addiction to some extent in recent months. I suffer from long standing walking depression, or dysthymia as well as chronic work stress. They are likely related. I have self medicated with alcohol for over a decade on the weekends. These days it’s only few beers at home or with friends and any people wouldn’t think this is problem of any kind as I never go overboard. The problem is, that few hours I’m feeling the buzz from the alcohol is the only time of the week I truly feel happy. I don’t think that’s normal or healthy. Same goes with weed. It’s illegal where I live but I’ve tried it couple of times and really like how it makes me forget about stress and allow me to focus and enjoy what ever I’m doing. Since it’s illegal, there are huge risks associated with using it so I shouldn’t even think about using it. Yet I find myself constantly thinking about it. I’m not sure this is typical addiction behavior, my life is in check in a I have extremely strong self-control. I just want to be happy and not stressed, preferably without chemicals. Thanks for the read, it helped and made me reflect on my own situation.

    • Hey Chuck,Thanks for reaching out.When our life is in turmoil or unmanageable it’s time for change.Trust me there is a better way of life.We just have to put ourselves out there.If there is anything you need please reach out.

      Remember “this to shall pass”

      All the best, Wayne

      • Hey Chuck just remember no one can tell u if your an alcoholic or addict.Only you can make that decision. I’m an all or nothing person and for me to just use or drink a little might work for awhile but my biggest fear is progression.If ya hang around a Barbour shop long enough eventually your gonna get a haircut.This is true in my opinion for any one who has the disease of addiction. However I wouldn’t change a thing,I just had to learn to cope with my stress in different ways. I’m in tai Kwan-do.I meaditate.I just breathe and feel.

        Hope this helps thank you for sharing
        All the best , Wayne

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