Drugs & Alcohol Are No Way to Cope - Try These Tips Instead

Man dealing with anxiety

April 08, 2020

The completely normal feeling of heightened anxiety brought about by the constant doom and gloom from the news can manifest itself in a variety of harmful behaviors, not least among them the increased use of drugs and alcohol.

Addiction experts from Hackensack Meridian Health offer the following guidance for anyone to better manage everyday pressure and stress that might lead to the abuse of drugs or alcohol.

1. Be involved in your support groups

Continue to attend 12-step programs, considered to be an effective way of maintaining sobriety. If you can’t attend in person, seek to join virtually. Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous offer online meetings.

If you have a sponsor, make it a point to check in regularly in person or by phone. These connections serve as a reminder that people are not alone, others are still there to help, and we can take care of each other.

Remember: If you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, you need to talk about it and be listened to by others.

2. Ease the mind with relaxation techniques

In stressful times we turn to old ways of coping. For those in recovery, that means a potential relapse. Those with an addictive history need to come up with alternative ways to deal with stress. Some tactics – and good ways to relax – might include:

  • A walk in nature
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Listening to music
  • Slow, mindful breathing
  • Sufficient sleep
  • Eating foods rich in anxiety-reducing nutrients. Choose leafy greens or whole grains for magnesium, cashews or egg yolks for zinc, salmon for omega-3 fatty acids and avocados for B vitamins.

3. Urges don’t last long – distract yourself until they pass

Cravings pass in a short amount of time – usually minutes to a half-hour at most – so distract yourself.
Take a walk. Read a book. Play a game. Call a friend or family. Do something to erase the thought. It will pass.

4. It often helps to keep the faith

There is a spiritual side to remaining sober for many individuals who struggle with substance abuse. It often helps to reach out to local religious institutions for counseling and comfort in stressful times.

5. If you do relapse, seek immediate help

For emergency situations, like overdose, call 911. Time is precious and every second counts; do not hesitate to get emergency medical help, it can save a life.
For more information on inpatient and outpatient treatment options across the state of NJ, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/HealthyMind.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.



Subscribe to get the latest health tips from our expert clinicians delivered weekly to your inbox.

How Isolation Affects Cognition

Social isolation can cause significant stress, leading to depression and cognitive problems.

The Science of the Sauce: What Happens to Your Brain When You Drink Alcohol?

Regina Krel, M.D., headache medicine specialist, shares an inside look at what happens to your brain when you drink, as well as the side effects afterwards.

Do I Have an Alcohol Use Disorder?

The COVID-19 crisis has created heightened anxiety and depression, increasing the risk of substance abuse.

5 Things You Should Never Say to Someone With Depression or Anxiety

It can be difficult knowing what to say to a loved one who’s been diagnosed with depression or anxiety. 

How Gut Health is Linked to Mental Health

Our gut has a lot to say when it comes to our mental health, and it plays a key role in our overall well-being.

Signs That You Need a Mental Health Day

When you’re under the weather with a fever, cough or nausea, it’s easy to know you need to take a sick day. What’s not so clear is when you should stay home for a mental health day, but the concept is slowly catching on.

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By using this site,
you agree to our Terms & Conditions. Also, please read our Privacy Policy.
Accept All Cookies