Safe and Healthy Alternatives to Alcohol for Coping with Stress
It is not uncommon that alcohol is used as a way of dealing with stress and coping with difficult situations, yet this type of self-medication will ultimately lead to a worsening situation. Over time the triggers that turned someone to drink will become connected to the alcohol use, with the alcohol becoming a major stressor in its own right. This creates and perpetuates a cycle of substance abuse and addiction.
The best way to address the problem of using alcohol as self-medication is to undergo a dual-diagnosis treatment program which identifies and treats any underlying mental health problem as well as the addiction itself.
There are other safer and healthier ways to help a person adjust their behavior before alcohol abuse develops into addiction.
Stress is part of life and over time we need to develop strategies to cope with it healthily. Instead of turning to substance abuse to escape or avoid dealing with stress, there are several ways that we can act so we can cope with the stressors without suffering physically, emotionally or financially. One of those ways is to use supplements that help by bringing us towards a more relaxed state without the physical or psychological damage caused by drugs or alcohol.
Kava is also known as kava root, kava pepper, kawa kawa, kew and intoxicating pepper.
Kava is a native plant of the South Pacific and medicinally it is used to help with anxiety, restlessness and stress and sleep problems. Additionally, it can be used for headache, depression, muscular pain and in the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). It is well known as a painkiller and is used to promote wound healing.
Kava acts on the brain and the central nervous system (CNS) and is also drunk socially in a similar way to alcohol because it gives you all the social effect of alcohol without any of the dangers or risk of addiction. It also has no negative depressant effect to be concerned about and is not damaging to the liver.
L-theanine is predominantly found in tea leaves but is also present in a form of edible mushroom known as Boletus badius. L-theanine relaxes an individual but does not make them drowsy, it has a positive impact on the cardiovascular system and helps relieve stress.
It is most commonly found in tea but it can also be found in other foods, particularly in Japanese cuisine. Although it has caused some side effects (headaches and dizziness) the substance is mostly beneficial and has even been said to have a part to play in the prevention of cancer. It is calming and stress relieving and gives the same relaxing effects as alcohol safely and healthily.
The herb Valerian also has other common names including baldrian, amantilla, all-heal and garden heliotrope. It is used to treat sleep problems and when combined with other herbs like lemon balm or hops it can cause drowsiness. It is often used to treat stress, migraines, stomach problems, anxiety and nervous asthma.
Some people have used Valerian as a treatment for depression, tremors, epilepsy, joint pain and ADHD and it can also be added to bathwater to help an individual relax and prevent restlessness. The herb sedates the brain and nervous system and is useful for those who use alcohol to relax or fall asleep.
Two other common reasons people use alcohol are to help with personal interactions and to fill time. Rather than using alcohol other activities can be used to build connections with others, pass time, as well as being a good way to work towards physical and mental health.
These activities have all been shown to have a positive impact when used as Safe and Healthy Alternatives to Alcohol for coping with stress:
Meditation has been used for many centuries and is known to help people cope with stress and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. As well as being relaxing it can also help lower blood pressure and help reduce pain.
Meditation is one of the ways that treatment programs help people overcome addiction. It encourages them to develop a sense of self, inward calm and focuses their attention. Meditation can include a mantra, image or sound to focus on if you wish. Some people find silence works best for them and focus on special breathing techniques, stillness and silence for around 15-20 minutes.
Exercise is a great way to release stress – be that dancing, running, swimming or going to the gym, you can increase physical fitness, confidence and body image at the same time. Exercise works in a multitude of ways to change a persons outlook on life and make them less likely to turn to alcohol as a form of stress relief. There are many form of exercise that are Safe and Healthy Alternatives to Alcohol for coping with stress. Try different thingns and find out what works best for you.
Spending time with family, friends and loved ones
This is an obvious de-stressing technique that is often overlooked. If you spend time talking, laughing and doing activities with people you love you will soon find your mood improves and your ability to cope with stress increases.
Taking up new hobbies
The time that is spent drinking can be more beneficial if it is full of interesting and inspiring new hobbies and activities. Maybe you want to start reading that book that’s been on the shelf for a while or go to a movie? If you feel creative maybe painting or making music is the way forward? Whatever it is it will reduce your stress levels and give you something positive to focus on. Maybe you want to try something new? Is there something you have been meaning to try for a while? Don’t be afraid to look for new and interesting ways to fill your time.
Treating Alcohol Addiction
If alcohol use starts to become addition it is time to seek help. Long term use of alcohol causes physical and mental damage and impacts personal relationships. It is vital to see a professional as withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous without medical supervision.
Alongside help with withdrawal professionals will look at what contributing factors triggered the addiction and work with the individual to look at ways of avoiding and ameliorating these. Treatment programs also offer opportunities to connect with other people and groups who have faced the same challenges and can assist them in their long term recovery.
Young Adults and Alcohol Addiction
Young adults are going through a unique and challenging transition in life and are often more negatively impacted by alcohol addiction as a result. At The Last House, we have a decade of experience in treating young adults struggling with substance or alcohol abuse. If you need advice or guidance or are worried about someone’s use of alcohol we are happy to give advice. Please call us or fill in our contact form and one of our professional counselors will be happy to discuss your needs and concerns.
The Last House Sober Living integrates many of the above methods that are designated as Safe and Healthy Alternatives to Alcohol for coping with stress. Contact Us for more information on our program and how we can help you with your fight against addiction.