Stress can be a major contributing factor to drug and alcohol abuse. Family problems, financial troubles, and life in general generate daily stress. It seems the more stress you’re under, the more you want to escape. Stress can either push one deeper into and addiction, or be a motivator to seek treatment. Either way, stress is an inevitable part of addiction recovery. Because of this, it is important to manage stress throughout the recovery process. Taking the necessary steps to cope with stress can help prevent relapse and setbacks in your recovery.

Keys to Avoiding Stress in Recovery

Stress is inevitable when working for a positive change. Your body experiences stress not only mentally, but physically. When you encounter stress, changes in your brain chemistry and hormones cause uncomfortable reactions. You might experience physical symptoms like an increased heart rate or blood pressure. Or emotional responses like anxiety or avoidance. While stress might be unavoidable, follow these keys to help keep it to a minimum: 

Stay Positive

Negative thinking can be very damaging to recovery. It is important to work on replacing negative thought patterns with positive ones. If you are always looking at the negative, the initial change of addiction treatment might be challenging. Think about the reasons you sought treatment and how much better your life will be after you complete a treatment program. Also, don’t be afraid to rest your mind when possible. Avoid activities that induce stress such as those tied to work, relationships, etc. It’s important to not let yourself get overwhelmed by trying to do too much too fast.

Make your health a priority

A healthy diet, a good night’s sleep, and regular exercise might seem cliche, but good habits can decrease your stress levels. Taking care of your health through diet and exercise increases endorphins in the brain, which improves mood. Studies show that regular exercise can help reduce the risk of relapse. It can also help improve mood, sleep, and raise self-esteem. Also, eating a nutrient-dense meal plan along with healthy snacking can improve your outlook on life.   


Addiction treatment can bring about a lot of thoughts and feelings. Writing about your recovery experience can be a positive way to cope with stress. Throughout your recovery you will meet interesting people, learn valuable lessons, and encounter challenging emotions. Keeping a journal of your experience can help you sort through your daily experiences. Also, having an outlet to process the good and hard parts of recovery can even help identify triggers and create healthy coping strategies.

Explore Spirituality or Religion

Perhaps one of the most well-known recovery support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, puts spirituality at the forefront of recovery. AA’s founder says that men and women struggling with substance abuse “have not only been mentally and physically ill, they have been spiritually sick.” Research shows that spirituality and religion plays a critical role in achieving and maintaining sobriety. Finding strength in a higher power can provide relief when recovery becomes difficult. 

Identify Your Stress Triggers

While stress is universal, what stresses you out specifically isn’t. Take time to think about what causes the most stress in your life. Is it relationships? Finances? Maybe something as simple as running late for an appointment. Identifying these stress triggers can help you deal with them as they arise. This can be a helpful part of the journaling process as well.

Next Steps

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, help is available. Rock Recovery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida can help with next steps. Call our 24-hour helpline or chat live with use now.

Helpful Resources

Stress Management in Recovery

10 Ways to Manage Stress in Sobriety