Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

Work-Related Stress and Painkiller Addiction

Work-Related Stress and Painkiller AddictionResearchers have long identified a correlation between stress and substance abuse. Several key facts about this connection include the following:

  • Exposure to stress increases risk of drug abuse and relapse.
  • Experiments show that animals that have never been exposed to illicit substances are more vulnerable to drug self-administration when stressed.
  • Acute stress improves memory, whereas chronic stress impairs memory and possibly also cognitive function.
  • The same neurocircuits that respond to drugs also respond to stress.

Both stress and drugs such as painkillers increase the release of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a hormone that catalyzes biological responses such as increased heart rate and metabolism. Stress also activates the amygdala, a part of the brain that regulates fight or flight responses. When the amygdala perceives threats, it floods the body with CRF to give it the boost needed to escape danger. This CRF surge diminishes rational thinking skills. For people in recovery, who stay sober by making wise choices and practicing mindfulness, a momentary lapse in judgment can weaken recovery and lead to relapse.

Stress Management and Recovery

In order to stay sober, people who abuse painkillers to manage stress must learn new coping skills. One approach to therapy that specifically focuses on learning to relax is Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT). Treatment goals include the following:

  • Boosting self-control by strengthening problem-solving skills
  • Building community support

Other goals of RPT include the following:

  • Encouraging mindfulness through exploring positive and negative consequences of continued use
  • Teaching individuals to self-monitor by identifying high-risk situations
  • Developing strategies for coping with and avoiding cravings
  • Identifying ways to avoid and overcome triggers

In treatment, many people find ways to incorporate relaxation strategies into daily life. Several include the following:

  • Singing
  • Getting massages
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Journaling
  • Practicing yoga
  • Adopting a dog
  • Listening to music
  • Taking a walk
  • Drawing
  • Soaking in a hot bath

Learning to manage stress is key to preventing relapse, especially during the first two months of recovery when the brain is still detoxifying from the negative effects of painkillers.

Recovery from Painkiller Addiction

If you or someone you love struggles with painkiller abuse, help is available. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour support line can guide you to wellness. Don’t go it alone when help is just one phone call away. You never have to go back to a life of addiction. Start your recovery now.

banner ad