People often experience stress when there is a gap between resources and demands. Stress can come from work, relationships, and personal circumstances. To help deal with the negative feelings stress produces, individuals can turn to alcohol. The initial positive feelings that alcohol produces can lead to dependency and alcoholism. Some people are more prone to developing a dependency on alcohol due to genetics, environments, and traumatic experiences.
Sources of Stress That Can Lead to Alcoholism
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) group sources of stress into four categories. Various groups of stressors include:
- General life stressors
- Fateful or catastrophic events
- Childhood maltreatment
- Minority stress
General life stressors include losing a job, going through a divorce, moving, and caring for a sick loved one. Fateful or catastrophic events can be extreme weather that results in the loss of personal property or family members, terrorism, and pandemics. Childhood maltreatment is related to abuse and neglect, including emotional neglect and abuse. Minority stress encompasses the social and economic impacts that stem from being female or a member of different ethnicity.
Sources of stress can also be positive, such as getting a promotion, changing careers, or moving to a better home. While it is important to learn how to incorporate stress management to prevent harmful coping mechanisms, alcohol addiction can often come from negativity. This includes repetitive trauma or sustained harmful sources of stress, such as a toxic work environment.
How Can Alcohol Addiction Develop?
Alcohol addiction develops over time as a person uses alcohol to relieve feelings of anxiety. Feelings of depression and hopelessness that come from stress are other reasons people seek relief. As someone continues to use alcohol to numb negative feelings, dependency increases. The amount of alcohol it takes to get relief goes up as the brain becomes less responsive to the temporary positive feelings alcohol produces.
Alcoholism and alcohol addiction develops due to both physical and psychological changes. A person begins to drink more to the point where his or her health begins to deteriorate. Work performance and the ability to meet basic life obligations can also decline. Consumption of the substance becomes more important than anything else, as the person physically feels he or she needs the substance to function.
What Does Stress Management Mean?
Often, middle-class working professionals are more prone to developing an alcohol use disorder or abusing alcohol. Also, substance use can increase with education and income. Chronic stress from work environments and demands is thought to be the main cause. The following list sums up what many middle-class professionals deal with:
- Conflicts with peers and supervisors
- Unrealistic and unclear performance expectations
- Long hours
- Job insecurity
- Mandated overtime
- Lack of peer or social support
- Repetitive work or boring work assignments
- Lack of advancement opportunities
- Demanding workloads
- Lack of flexible work schedules
All of these factors can lead to feeling out of control. When a person believes that he or she lacks control in one area, frustration can increase. Without knowledge of proper stress management techniques, someone can easily turn to poor coping mechanisms like drinking. Stress management is about acknowledging negative feelings, finding ways to release or work through those feelings. Some of the more popular stress management techniques include exercise and talking with friends, family, or peers.
How Can Northern Illinois Recovery Help?
Northern Illinois Recovery Center can help you overcome alcohol addiction. We have a quality rehab treatment program with licensed clinicians and a doctor on staff. We’re located in the Chicago suburbs and feature a 12-step program that can give you access to a strong peer support network. Contact us at 855.786.1978, and we’ll get you on the road to recovery.