Learning how to cope healthily with changes, stressors, and other triggers can do wonders in addiction recovery. These tools can make recovery more positive and rewarding, prevent relapse and contribute to better overall physical and mental health.
Beginning again and restructuring your life isn’t always easy, but learning more about your triggers and how to develop coping skills can make the healing process less challenging. Continue reading to learn about types of coping skills for addiction and how professional treatment centers can help you build them for long-term recovery.
Coping skills are any behavioral patterns or characteristics that enhance your ability to adapt. In other words, coping skills help you regulate your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in the face of stressful events. Situations that benefit from appropriate coping skills can include work frustrations, academic pressure, or relationship troubles. Coping mechanisms can soothe or distract from the frustration, help you face the situation and take action or be flexible and motivated to solve the problem.
Sometimes, the coping strategies we develop are unhealthy. Many people use substances as a primary coping mechanism, self-medicating an underlying mental health issue with alcohol or substances. In fact, 7.7 million American adults have co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Mental health issues can often make it challenging to process difficult emotions. Examples of mental health conditions that often co-occur with addiction include:
Life is full of stressful situations beyond our control. What we can control, however, is our response to these situations. While it can feel challenging, coping skills play an essential role in our mental health. If you have begun the addiction recovery process, professional support and treatment can help you channel your energy into healthier outlets.
There are so many benefits of healthy coping skills for addiction recovery and your overall wellness. Substances like opioids activate our brain’s “pleasure circuit,” releasing dopamine and making people experience a sense of euphoria. When we use these substances to cope with or escape difficult emotions, we can start to rely on them to function and feel okay. Too often, this is how addiction starts.
Developing healthy coping mechanisms for mental health is essential to break the addictive cycle. In times of crisis, the right coping strategies can help us manage life’s ups and downs and prevent minor setbacks from becoming more significant.
Positive coping skills for addiction have numerous benefits, including:
When you face mounting stress or pressure, it’s common to slip into behaviors to remove that discomfort. Intense emotions can be difficult to manage. Coping skills can help regulate these emotions.
This can include gambling, substance use, or other unhealthy activities. Healthy coping skills help us manage these strong impulses and emotions in the most beneficial way possible. These healthy habits can help us restore balance after experiencing stressful events.
Practicing healthy coping strategies can help us gain confidence in ourselves and our strengths and abilities. For instance, perhaps you replace gambling or substance use with exercise or creating art. Seeing improvements in our bodies or the creative work we produce can help us feel better about ourselves.
Additionally, certain types of coping skills can lead to connection with other people. For example, by attending a new exercise class, we may meet people and build new relationships. It can also be highly motivating, encouraging us to continue these healthy activities to constantly improve in different areas of our life.
Building healthy coping skills is essential to keep calm in stressful times and build resilience for the future. Life is unpredictable and can come with many positive and negative changes. Over time, healthy coping skills can help us respond to negative emotions or events better. You’ll find it easier to face situations head-on without avoiding the problem. Aside from building resilience, you’ll gain confidence in your ability to respond to stress and may even be able to help others in times of need.
Developing healthy coping skills is critical to maintaining sobriety from substances and alcohol. While addiction treatment centers can get you on a healthy path, they don’t guarantee lasting sobriety. In fact, 40% to 60% of people who have lived with addiction go through stages of relapse. Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment has failed but that you should resume or modify it. Coping skills are also a must to help you recover completely, as they support your overall health and help you break free from the cycle of addiction.
Specific coping strategies can improve your overall health and wellness. For example, writing, drawing, and making music are all forms of artistic coping strategies that also promote better mental health. At the same time, activities like exercise and cooking nutritious foods can improve your physical health.
Coping skills are helpful, useful, and necessary for everyone, not just those in recovery from addiction. Making a habit of practicing healthy coping strategies can bring significant strides in all areas of your life, helping you stay healthy long-term.
Several healthy coping skills can help you conquer substance use and addiction. Everyone copes differently, so you may find specific skills work better for you than others. It’s all about finding the coping skills for addiction that work best for you and your recovery journey:
Substances and alcohol can cause you to act impulsively. It’s common for people with substance use disorder to make rushed decisions in times of stress, depression, anger, or anxiety. However, these fast decisions can often yield painful results. Learning to wait before responding can help you make more rational and informed decisions, which is especially important during stressful events. When you feel pressured or rushed to make a decision, take a moment to breathe and clear your mind.
Thinking and breathing before reacting can help manage impulses and address issues with a level head. Using this skill in everyday life can help you change habits, manage emotions, maintain relationships and even keep your career.
Relaxation and stress relief are two primary reasons people turn to substances or alcohol. But if you can work to ease tension on your own, you will no longer feel the need to rely on substances.
Mindfulness meditation is an evidence-based practice that can help you see clearly through your problems and address them more helpfully. Mindfulness also helps you stay in the present moment, which often results in less anxiety, stress, or depression. It includes any exercises that help you become aware of your body sensations, thoughts, and feelings.
Mindfulness coping skills that can ease stress and anxiety include:
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is another excellent way to reduce stress and body aches. It works by tensing muscle groups one at a time and then relaxing each area. Mindfulness techniques can help you work through difficult emotions and thoughts. It can help center you so that you are only focused on the present moment, observe your thoughts and accept them without judgment.
In the past, you likely spent most of your time seeking, using, and recovering from substances or alcohol. Now, it’s time to replace those activities with new, healthy ones. Try new hobbies or activities that prevent your mind from triggering thoughts or cravings. Do things you may have always wanted to do but never got the chance to.
Examples of coping skills for addiction cravings include:
Too much-unplanned downtime could lead to increased cravings. Keep your schedule filled with healthy and positive activities that uplift your spirit and keep you emotionally intact. Check things off your to-do list and be proud of all you’ve accomplished. Do what will make you feel good at the end of the day and continue new healthy habits into the next morning.
Substances can significantly affect your physical health, so getting active and exercising are excellent coping skills for addiction triggers. Exercise can raise your endorphins, release dopamine and help you reduce stress and sleep better, which can often help prevent triggering feelings. It’s also important to remember to eat nutritious, satisfying meals and nourish your body with nutrients and vitamins in recovery.
Practicing gratitude is one of the most empowering coping skills for addiction recovery. As you work through the process, consider all the people in your life who support you, remember what makes you feel good, and be grateful for how far you’ve made it. Writing can be an excellent way to express yourself and release negative emotions and feelings you may struggle with.
Seeing your thoughts on paper can also help you manage your emotions more efficiently. Additionally, keeping a journal is a great way to take inventory of what’s happening in your life, acknowledging the steps you need to take to improve. Overall, developing this coping mechanism can help you practice gratitude and maintain a positive attitude as you improve your life while serving as an outlet for negative thoughts and feelings.
Social support is an essential component of your recovery success. Honesty is key to sobriety, and talking to your support system about your feelings can help them keep you accountable. Recovery is not easy, though opening up to new relationships and building a sober network is essential so you have people to call and in times of need.
If you do not have close friends or family members to lean on in stressful events, attend 12-step meetings and build a healthy, supportive group of friends. Online communities can also offer support. This way, you can get help staying on track. Take advantage of the social skills you learn in these meetings, which can help you make lasting relationships and cope better in the future.
At Gateway Foundation, we can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms to increase your chances of a long-lasting recovery. We take a broad recovery approach to help you avoid relapse and improve your overall well-being. Our treatment programs can include the following services to help you stay sober:
Therapeutic practices like cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can help you understand your unique triggers to combat them and stay sober. At Gateway, we provide many forms of treatment to help you recover holistically.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions are a powerful form of addiction support. In these sessions, you’ll work with a therapist to identify the stressors and triggers that might cause you to turn to substances for relief. From there, we’ll work on developing new coping skills for addiction cravings.
Perhaps you have an underlying health condition contributing to your substance use disorder. In that case, we can provide dual diagnosis treatment to care for both conditions and increase the effectiveness of your overall treatment. As you develop and master new ways to de-stress, you may find it easier to overcome addiction challenges and maintain long-term sobriety.
Sobriety is about building a new life. Creating new habits and avoiding triggers are essential for a successful recovery. While it can be difficult to avoid triggers and stay on a sober path, at Gateway, you are never alone. We provide residential treatment programs, which include 24/7 care in a supervised setting away from substances. You can also be away from situations, places, emotions, and people who might make you sad, angry, or afraid.
As stated, staying busy and keeping your schedule healthy while in recovery is important. At Gateway, we emphasize routine and structure to help you avoid substance use. We also provide medication-assisted detox to help reduce cravings and safely remove substances from your body.
Support groups are essential for long-term recovery. In group therapy or 12-step meetings, you can discuss your struggles with others in recovery. These sessions can help foster relationships and make you feel less alone as you learn new coping skills based on others’ experiences.
In 12-step meetings, you’ll get a sponsor to hold you accountable to stay sober. You can discuss your goals and build resilience to help others overcome their struggles.
Your sponsor or counselor is there to listen to you, keep you from relapsing, and help you avoid negative thoughts. You’ll get the chance to work through difficult emotions and learn to interpret situations appropriately.
At Gateway, we provide fun and engaging recreational activities to help you stay busy and avoid relapse. You’ll focus on building healthy habits in recovery to take with you after completing the program. Our activities are designed to combat loneliness, assist your emotional, physical and mental healing, and encourage lifestyle changes. These include:
We also provide healthy meals to support your physical and mental health after withdrawing from substances. A healthy diet can help clear your head, improve your body and prepare you for a healthy, effective recovery.
Coping skills can help you healthily confront and overcome the triggers that may have led to your substance use. While addiction can feel isolating, remind yourself that you are not alone in experiencing triggers. At Gateway Foundation, our experienced and compassionate team is here for you.
We can help you build new coping skills you can take with you post-treatment. Having positive relationships and people on your side can help you stay sober. We provide support groups, behavioral therapies, counseling, and other supportive measures. You can also learn stress and anger management, communication skills, and essential relapse-prevention tools for your recovery success.
Identifying your triggers in therapy and then building healthy coping skills can help you to stay healthy and prevent relapse. Contact us to learn how we can help you through the recovery process.