Coping Mechanisms for Addiction – If a person becomes overwhelmed with life’s struggles, such as the loss of employment, a failing marriage, physical health problems, emotional instability or co-occurring mental health disorders, he or she may begin to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Eventually, this pattern of abuse becomes increasingly compulsive, and an addiction ultimately develops.
List of Coping Mechanisms
Although the number of strategies outlined as follows may be somewhat intimidating, it is important to realize that you do have the power to take control of your life, health, and happiness. You don’t have to practice all of these or try to engage in them all simultaneously. The path toward recovery varies for each person, and hence, the combination of coping mechanisms that bring the most benefit will differ person to person.
Developing a Multi-Faceted Approach
Instead of becoming overwhelmed by these strategies, you may consider them as part of an extensive toolkit, so to speak. Should the need arise to use them, you’ll be prepared to execute them to ward off temptation and relapse.
Create a Social Support Network
Developing significant and supportive relationships can help to reinforce your sense of belonging, self-confidence, and self-awareness. You can choose to re-kindle an old relationship or establish a new one, but recognize that these positive relationships are a vital component of recovery.
They can help to end loneliness and isolation and allow others to reflect your mental and emotional state back to you and give encouragement or voice concern should you deviate from your focus.
Join a Support Group
Also, you can participate in various support groups. Whether faith-based or secular, these groups can give you the benefit of shared experiences facilitated by peer support. These interactions promote increased accountability, encouragement and access to other coping skills. These groups can also be the perfect place to meet new sober friends.
Enhanced Interpersonal Skills
The quality of your relationships, such as those with a spouse, child, or friend, can improve when you learn how to create and honor boundaries and find new, healthy ways to express needs. Communication skills training can help you in more precisely conveying your needs and understanding those of others, relating your feelings honestly, and listening more effectively. When you’re struggling with thoughts of substance abuse, you need to be able to reach out to those people who care most and explain that you need help.
Spiritual or religious practices have been shown to provide significant benefit to those who participate during and after substance abuse treatment. Not only do these practices offer sources of hope, inspiration, and empowerment, they also allow you another method to keep yourself accountable and sober.
Too often, a person in the throes of addiction or struggling to maintain recovery finds that their thoughts are stuck in the past or the future. This behavior can detract from the power of the present moment – mindfulness helps a person to be “present in the present,” and deal with things as they occur.
When one is successful at doing this, he or she will be better able to accept the situation and access the power, resources, and skills to change it. Mindfulness has been shown to improve self-control and moderate impulsivity, two skills that are of great benefit when one is attempting to cope with a potential trigger.
Avoiding high-risk situations is essential to protect oneself from triggers. In recovery, the acronym “H.A.L.T.” is often employed that can help a person remember the most common states that can result in thoughts of relapse. H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Lonely, Angry and Tired, or in other words, situations that might compel one to use drugs or alcohol to alleviate these feelings.
If you can’t circumvent a situation that makes you feel this way, such as an intense day of work, you can still be mindful or controlling of the things you can. For example, you can make arrangements to see a close friend on a day you know you’ll be feeling exhausted or lonely to help to bolster your mood and reinforce your recovery plans.
Sometimes a challenging situation is unavoidable. But instead of being reactive and turning to drugs or alcohol, you must be proactive and strategize your behavior or actions to achieve the best outcome possible. Rather than becoming overwhelmed, look to the heart of the issue and see if there is something you can change to temper the temptation or potential negative outcome.
Practicing Refusal Skills
A person cannot always shield oneself from risky situations and temptations. For this reason, you need to find in yourself the confidence and ability to be assertive and say no. It may sound trivial, but practicing different ways of saying “no” to drugs or alcohol out loud may be helpful.
Emotional Regulation Skills
Negative and unhealthy emotions can wreak havoc on a person, resulting in a state of imbalance that makes them more vulnerable to drug or alcohol use. Emotional reactions are found in most situations and cannot be avoided. Because of this, a person must learn to moderate and control his or her reactions and nurture those that are positive.
Anger is an intense emotion, one that affects the mind and an individual’s physiological state. Blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature may rise, feeding your awareness that you’re feeling out of control. Collectively, this state may compel you to consider managing these feelings through substance use.
Anger management helps people to articulate anger in a more assertive way that is not aggressive or confrontational, therefore offering a greater opportunity to promote change and lessen the chance of a confrontation.
Stress Management Skills
Stress is a normal part of life, but sometimes people are unable to deal with it appropriately, or they encounter situations that produce an excessive amount of stress. By learning how to manage stress more effectively, a person lessens the opportunity for thoughts of using to arise and balance an emotional state to avoid further triggers that could perpetuate substance abuse.
Healthily managing stress may require counseling, exercise, family support, and learning to confront issues actively and directly instead of letting them accumulate and get out of your control.
Participating In Enjoyable Activities
When a person experiences addiction, they often neglect activities that were once meaningful or enjoyable to them, as they devote increasing amounts of time and energy to the pursuance and use of drugs and alcohol.
Recovery is the time to reconnect with these interests or find new hobbies or activities that can serve as distractions and foster a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment, and well-being. Various hobbies may pique your interest, such as gardening, painting, crafting, sports, reading, playing an instrument, listening to music or cooking.
Develop Healthy Habits as an Outlet
As addiction gets worse, the person may forget about important aspects of self-care. During recovery, adopting better habits is critical, allowing you to take care of yourself, body and mind. Good dietary choices and nutrition can help repair the body, while also avoiding hunger, which can lead to thoughts of drug use.
Exercising is also one of the most powerful coping mechanisms – it releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
Getting Treatment for Drug and Addiction
Coping mechanisms can be learned through a comprehensive addiction treatment program that includes services essential to recovery, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support.
Midwood Addiction Treatment offers these services in multiple formats including partial hospitalization and outpatient treatment. We provide clients with the skills and knowledge they need to employ healthy coping mechanisms and experience a fulfilled life, free of substances.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you plan your personal path to recovery!