Stress-Busters 2018: how to cope with stress Related to addiction

We continue our "Stress-Busters 2018" series focusing on stress related to addiction

Woman looking concerned

Nearly Half of Americans know an addict

An October 2017 Pew Research Center article uncovers that nearly half (46%) of Americans have family members or close friends who have been addicted to drugs. The article states:

In 2016, about 7.4 million Americans ages 12 and older (2.7%) reported behavior in the past year that meets the criteria of an “illicit drug use disorder,” according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). These criteria include a drug user making “unsuccessful attempts to cut down on use” or continuing the habit “despite physical health or emotional problems associated with use.”
— John Gramlich, Pew Research Center

With such a high percentage of Americans exposed to a person struggling with addiction, it's important to pay special attention to the stress that comes from these relationships. Whether it's a close loved one or a friend, the non-addict is impacted by the choices and behaviors of the addict. There is also the added layer of having a close relative or friend in treatment, which adds even more complexity to the relationship because behavior and interactions change as a result of supporting the person in recovery.

Pew Research Center's article, "Prescription drug abuse is increasingly seen as a major U.S. public health problem," states that there is a heightened awareness in how Americans view prescription drug abuse—from nicotine to alcohol to opioids. (see chart above)

With the scope of addiction and public health quite large, there are things being done to address these issues closer to home:

Brockton's Champion Plan

Brockton's Champion Plan

One of Brewster Ambulance Service's municipal contracts is with the City of Brockton, a region in the Commonwealth sadly known for a steady increase in opioid-related deaths. Brockton, however, is trying to change those statistics with its Champion Plan.

Launched on February 29th, 2016, the City of Brockton's Champion Plan is designed to provide easier access to treatment for anyone seeking help with drug addiction. We published an article on the Champion Plan a year ago, and checked back with Koren Cappiello, Director of Social Services at the Office of Mayor Bill Carpenter in Brockton for an update on the program's progress:

  • As of March 2018 they have assisted 539 unique individuals and had 837 placements into treatment programs
  • From February 2016 to December 2017, the average placement time was a 71-minute wait for placement
  • 13% of those treated was their first time in treatment

These are proud accomplishments for the Champion Plan and the City of Brockton. As they continue to serve their community, Brewster will also support the city's efforts to save lives and help people with addiction.

Learn more about the Champion Plan on the City of Brockton's website here ↗

Read the full Brewster Ambulance Service Insight's article on the Champion Plan here ↗ 

Recovery Support Group

Tips to cope with addiction-related stress

With all of the treatment and recovery options available to the persons challenged with their addiction, what can the people in their life impacted by their addiction do? Here are a few things to think about if you are coping with addiction-related stress:

  • Safety is a priority. It may be difficult for you break away from the person with the addiction, but always consider your safety. People under the influence of drugs or alcohol have unpredictable behavior. Their behavior and actions can have unintended consequences and impact you in an unexpected way. Make sure you are in the right proximity so your safety is assured. This may mean a physical relocation or separation from your loved one.
  • Understand that substance abuse is a disease. Your loved one has a disease that can be treated. It is not something that you caused, so don't let the guilt of that assumption cause additional stress. Avoid covering it up or promoting the denial of the addict. Encourage them to seek help from a licensed treatment provider or physician.
  • It's okay to feel negative emotion. You're human. It's normal and healthy to have an emotional response of anger, frustration, fear or shame about a loved one's addiction. Allow yourself the proper space and time to vent your emotions so they don't cause additional stress. Consider talking to someone or journaling about your feelings as it will help release the emotion instead of letting it build up to a high level of stress in your body.
  • Honor your wellness. Celebrate your body's health and wellness. Get out and exercise, enjoy life, and pursue the things that make you happy. A good mental attitude will always lower cortisol levels and keep stress at bay. And, the best part is that you can be a role model for your addict as they go through treatment. Give them hope that they can resume a better life free of addiction by seeing you live yours responsibly and fully.
  • Help others. There may be other family members or friends of the addict being impacted by the addict's behavior and struggling with stress from not knowing how to cope with how they feel. Be supportive, encourage them to seek guidance or simply be a good friend and listen. Sometimes being a shoulder to lean on for someone is as de-stressing for you as it is for them.

Additional Tips from Recovery Village

The Recovery Village treatment centers offer the following tips to help family members of addicts cope:

  1. Learn as much as possible about addiction
  2. Connect with understanding peers
  3. Go to family therapy sessions
  4. Prepare meals and eat as a family
  5. Manage expectations around treatment and care
  6. Stay in touch with personal joy
  7. Get regular exercise
  8. Stick to a regular sleep and wake schedule
  9. Attend private therapy sessions
  10. Educate and advocate about stress and depression

For expanded detail on each of these ten tips, visit The Recovery Village's full article here ↗ 


National Resources for Addiction, Recovery, Health and Drug Policy

Here is a list of additional national resources for researching ways to get help with addiction:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—SAMHSA is charged with improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services to address substance abuse and mental illness. Offers data and statistics on: National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Emergency Room Data, Facilities Data, and Treatment Data.
  • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment—The mission of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment is to promote community-based substance abuse treatment and recovery services for individuals and families in every community. CSAT provides national leadership to improve access, reduce barriers, and promote high quality, effective treatment and recovery services
  • National Institutes of Health—A part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, NIH is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world.
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism—NIAAA is one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAAA supports and conducts research on the impact of alcohol use on human health and well-being. It is the largest funder of alcohol research in the world.
  • National Institute of Drug Abuse—NIDA's mission is to bring the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction through strategic support and research across a broad range of disciplines, and ensuring the rapid and effective dissemination and use of the results of that research to significantly improve prevention and treatment.
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy—ONDCP advises the President on drug-control issues, coordinates drug-control activities and related funding across the Federal government, and produces the annual National Drug Control Strategy.
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention—CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.
  • Drug Enforcement Agency—The DEA enforces the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States.