Addiction and Stress

Stress related drug relapse

People experiencing addiction to substance misuse who are engaged with services that are trying to help them in their efforts to remain drug free can often withstand the cravings brought on by encountering reminders of their former drug life. Countless drug workers can evidence this. For 6 months or so their clients can:

  • remain clean of drugs while they are still living near the area they may have scored drugs in
  • speak with former friends who are still using
  • walk regularly past their former dealer

and at no time during any of these events give in to urges, cravings or any temptation to use.

But then out of the blue they relapse!

The reasons cited by addicts in recovery for relapsing are, in the main, minor stressors. These include:

  • social security payment was late,
  • had a row with my partner,
  • my court date put back once more.

Research has indicated that addicts may be more sensitive (hypersensitive) than non-addicts to stress.

It is proposed that this hypersensitivity existed before drug taken began and may contribute to them first using drugs, or it may come about from effects of drug abuse on the brain, or it may be a result of both.

However it needs to be seriously investigated because of the alarming rate of relapses.It is well documented that the nervous system of an addict is hypersensitive to chemically induced stress. This suggests that the nervous system also may be hypersensitive to emotional stress.


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