When you’re plagued with bouts of overwhelming emotion, how do you cope? Do you tend to draw a bubble bath, listen to music, and take a few deep breaths? Or are you more prone to grab that bottle of wine or joint nearby to “take the edge off”? If you’re more inclined to do the latter, you may not be aware of the dangers it can bring. Using drugs or alcohol to cope with emotion can only lead to dependency and eventually addiction.
Trapped in Your Own Solution
Being a little stressed, down, or anxious happens to the best of us. Life, unfortunately, is not designed always to be easygoing. When life evokes extreme emotions, rather than think about what the underlying causes are, many tend to look to substances like drugs or alcohol as a solution. Though some can take a few swigs and move on, there are some that aren’t so fortunate. They become dependent on alcohol or other substances to help them run from their emotions.
Approximately 76 million people suffer from alcohol use disorders. Because alcohol is so easily obtainable and completely legal, this tends to be the substance of choice. As abusers become more dependent on alcohol, they begin to see signs of addiction take hold of their lives. Relationships become ruined, finances fall apart, and pretty soon, the substance starts to take a life of its own.
Recognizing the Cycle
It can be hard to tell when you’ve crossed the line from having a drink at the end of the day to self-medicating, becoming dependent, or addicted to substances. However, when alcohol or drugs become your go-to source for getting through rough times, it creates a self-destructive cycle:
1. The emotion – You start with the emotion. There is usually something bothering you that has you down or unable to focus. This can be a stressful day at work to being anxious about being in a particular social setting.
2. The substance – You begin to look for things that can help you cope. This might start off as a few drinks or some pot to take the edge off. When you do this, the emotions that you were feeling begin to subside leaving you feeling calm and at ease.
3. Continued use – Because 1-3 drinks or a joint helped you to calm down in the past, you begin to use it again. Eventually, you don’t try to cope on your own and simply look to the substance to get you through.
4. The hiding – You start to realize that you’re a bit dependent upon substances to get you through difficult circumstances. However, you’re not ready to admit it out loud. At this point, you begin masking your actions from others. In many instances, however, trying to hide your newfound behaviors from others makes you more anxious which causes you to abuse the substances even further.
5. Life gets complicated – There comes a point where you’re unable to hide your dependency, and others begin to take notice. This could be because you’ve stopped socializing, have changed in physical appearance, or simply aren’t yourself. Your loved ones then become adamant about finding a way to help you which makes you feel even worse.
As you begin to feel ashamed of your behaviors and others take notice, you get lost deeper into the need to self-medicate which then leads to addiction. However, the increased need for booze or drugs begins to add up causing financial distress. Eventually, your behavior begins to take a toll on your professional life.
Do you recognize this cycle in your life? If so, you should know that continuing down this path will only make things harder. It is best to face the issue head on by getting the help you need from a rehab facility center. Not only will they help you to kick the habit of addiction, but they will also teach you new coping techniques which can be used in the future should you feel stressed, depressed, or anxious. This way when craziness starts happening in your life, it won’t keep you down – or force you to go back to self-medicating.