Are Addicts Avoiding Lows? Reasons Chasing A High Is Not What It Seems
And 5 ways to cope with emotional lows that can lead to drug addiction.
Recents studies are changing what we think about drug addiction and what it is that an addict is seeking when they use. These studies were done on animal subjects in order to get a more honest response.
The results show that drugs are used to avoid emotional lows or numb out the pain of negative emotional states, rather than to attain a high. Because a high is so short lived and is guaranteed to be followed by a more severe emotional low, a drug user may continue to use just to avoid that low.
The findings tell us that emotional lows play just as an important role in addiction as the high that drugs give. This can help lead to more insight into what causes addiction, specifically what triggers a cycle of addictive behavior. Emotions or occurrences that act as triggers for addiction include a craving for excitement or a need to reduce stress or tension.
These drives are set off by triggers such as certain people, time of day, locations, and emotional states. By looking more closely at these triggers, we can determine what lies at the root of an individual addiction. Anxiety, boredom, a feeling of isolation, criticism, feelings of failure or sexual cravings can all be culprits.
One you know what your personal triggers are, it’s important to know how to cope with them in a healthy way rather than turn to a substance. Here are 5 healthy ways to cope with emotional lows when recovering from an addiction.
1. Dealing With Stress
Addictions often start with a person using drugs to cope with stress. It may provide a temporary relief, but in the long run may make feelings of anxiety worse. Using other methods, such as exercise, meditation, or doing activities you enjoy, can help anyone cope with stress.
2. Dealing With Mental Health
People struggling with the mental highs and lows of conditions such as depression, anxiety, and others often turn to drugs for help. Using drugs only treats the symptoms and doesn’t address the source of the problem. Working through mental health problems with a therapist or other professional is the way to go.
3. Treat Yourself Right
Along with nourishing mental health, keeping focus on maintaining a balanced lifestyle is also important. Making time for friendships and other relationships, treating your body right with exercise and good nutrition, and just being kind to yourself will encourage stability and help prevent depression and low self esteem.
4. Let Yourself Be Passionate
Finding an activity or cause that you care deeply about and taking time to put energy into that endeavor not only gives life more purpose, but makes it more fun too. You’ll be less likely to risk everything for drugs or alcohol.
5. Know Your Background
Addiction is often genetic, so knowing your family’s history is important. If you know you’re at risk for addiction, taking the proper steps to avoid drugs or alcohol is a good idea.
John Lloyd is a treatment specialist who works helping people in addiction recovery at Seasons In Malibu.
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- Addicts may be seeking relief from emotional lows more than euphoric highs (sciencedaily.com)
- Drug Addiction and Long Term Rehab Statistics (justprayno.org)
- Drug treatment should focus on trauma addicts have faced says study (news.stv.tv)