Often, the quickest way to relapse is through stress. When you can manage your stress and stay balanced, you find the space inside of you to resist the temptations you know are unhealthy. When you find the calm path inside, you can stay inwardly balanced and avoid choices that are not to your benefit. On the other hand, if you begin to lose your sense of balance in your life, you might notice the following tendencies, which could lead to relapse:
Risk Taking – Adults, who are emotionally and psychologically healthy, are able to judge risky behavior and factor into decision-making the consequences of their choices. Taking drugs releases dopamine in the brain and fulfills the need for highs that risky behavior brings. To avoid this, you can channel your energy towards achieving goals or participating in sports that could replace the high of taking drugs.
Anxiety – When you’re under stress and if you do not have the coping skills to manage that stress, it’s easy to turn to drugs. It’s easy to have a drink as a way to calm the nerves. At the same time, you might already have anxiety due to a mental illness. Yet, staying balanced includes knowing what to do to keep your anxiety in check.
Depression – Sometimes, alcohol use, abuse, and depression goes hand in hand. You might feel so uncomfortable with who you are, how your life is functioning, and how it hurts inside. Although depression is a psychological disorder, it can be painful emotionally and physically. The dissatisfaction with one’s life, the inability to feel anything, the lack of connection with oneself and others might stimulate the desire to drink. In fact, it might drive an entire addiction. It might be obvious that in order to create a life of sobriety, in order to finally get clean, the psychological disorder of depression needs to heal. Addiction typically has underlying issues that need to be treated. One can make the choice to get sober, create a network of support, and even create a new life. However, if those underlying issues are not addressed, and in this case, those that led to depression, there is likely going to be relapse.
Social Alienation – This can be a pattern for many adults who experience depression, or who have struggled with addiction in the past. Or you might have had to face bullying when you were a child, and perhaps you don’t have the coping skills to manage the emotions that result from social interaction. You might be very sensitive and yet you have developed the pattern of hiding their emotions. If you’ve experienced trauma in your life, it’s common to be sensitive to the thoughts and expression of others. It’s common to feel shameful, and as a result feel the need to hide and withdraw. Yet, in that aloneness and in inability to deal with emotions, drugs can become a coping mechanism of choice.
Emotional Avoidance – Emotional awareness is the skill of knowing what you are feeling, why you’re feeling it, and what physical sensations you are having as a result. This is a skill that can be cultivated over time, which allows you to identify and express what you are feeling moment by moment. It’s is also the ability to understand the relationship between what you are feeling and how you choose to behave. However, if you are unable to manage your emotions, you might be vulnerable to addiction. Alcohol or drugs can turn into a way to avoid distress and challenging emotions, especially those that are difficult to express, such as anger and shame. Not having the skills to cope with difficult feelings as well as not wanting to feel them can easily lead a teen to drugs as an avoidance mechanism.
Staying balanced can help prevent the above situation. Stay balanced can provide the right state of mind to be able to manage your depression or anxiety. Inner balance can give the frame of mind to make healthy choices and protect you from taking risks. If you’re unsure what you need to stay balanced, you might consider deep breathing every day, a practice of meditation, a practice of yoga, or having an hour of alone time each day.
Staying balanced can support your ability to stay sober, healthy, and happy.
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