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Stress, Addictive Behaviours and Addiction

There are many different coping mechanisms that people use to cope with the pressure that comes with today’s modern lifestyle; with addictive behaviour unfortunately being one of the most common.

Alcohol and drug rehabilitation is not only for the hardened criminal or addict. Addiction finds its way into many a home, affecting people from all walks of life.

Dealing with life pressures - AddicAtion recovery South Africa

Furthermore, addiction does not only come in the shape of substance abuse such as alcohol or illegal drugs.

Addiction is often a result of many things that become increasingly difficult to manage such as emotional stress, work pressure and domestic issues to name a few.

It is safe to say that society and the roles we all play as individuals have evolved in such a way that more is expected from us now than ever before.

Not only are the daily challenges we face bigger than they were a few decades ago, we now have more available “escape” routes to choose from.

In addition, we are expected to live at a much faster pace, which leaves us with less time to find healthy and sustainable ways in dealing with stress.

Stress is a result of consistently being under pressure for extended periods of time and learning to manage this pressure is a difficult task.

However, it is possible but in order to become better at dealing with pressure, we must be able to identify what our triggers are.

There are many different causes of stress and for each individual the causes will be very different.


Work stress


  • • Working in a dangerous work environment - such as construction sites, mining, warehousing, manufacturing. These environments increase your risk of injury which causes continuous stress.
  • • Discrimination in the work place - working in an environment where you are not seen as equal or are exploited due to certain demographics such as gender, religious beliefs or race.
  • • Sexual harassment - being sexually harassed by colleagues is a common occurrence and is an extremely stressful environment to work in.
  • • Fear of losing your job - retrenchment is a very scary reality, whether it be due to age or the economy, anyone is at risk of losing their job.
  • • Working long hours - there are many jobs that require overtime. Putting in too many hours at work can exhaust you, therefore causing your stress levels to increase.


Personal stress


  • • Death - losing a family member or a loved one is extremely painful which results in high levels of stress.
  • • Divorce - divorce entails many legal matters that can become drawn out. This causes extremely high levels of stress.
  • • Conflict - constantly being at conflict with a family member, friend or spouse.
  • • Financial issues - being in debt or not having a stable income.
  • • Children - having rebellious children or children who are aggressive or difficult to manage.
  • • Trauma - experiencing a traumatic event can easily cause post traumatic stress disorder which is a debilitating form of stress.
  • • Insomnia - lack of sleep is often a result of stress but can very easily be the cause of high levels of stress.




  • • Gambling
  • • Eating disorders (over eating/bulimia/anorexia)
  • • Substance abuse (alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription medication)
  • • Pornography
  • • Shopping/spending money impulsively




  • • Do not look for the easy way out – there is no quick fix for stress. Making the effort to really work on managing your stress is a sustainable approach.
  • • Be gentle with yourself – you are human and you are allowed to make mistakes. The key is to start again tomorrow with a positive approach to the problem.
  • • Prioritise – Make a list of your priorities and aim to complete one task at a time. Working on too many things at once will make you feel like you are not making progress.
  • • Meditation - Practice taking deep breaths – when you begin to feel overwhelmed, take a few minutes to breath in deeply. Breathing exercises are wonderful tools to help you destress within a matter of minutes.
  • • Identify your triggers – know what sets you off and approach those situations with awareness.
  • • Address what can be addressed – seek counselling or support where necessary, talk about what is bothering you. This helps a great deal with managing stress.
  • • Choose a healthy lifestyle – exercise and a healthy diet play a major role in your ability to cope with stress. A healthy lifestyle will also passively contribute to reducing your stress levels in general.
  • • Spend some time in solitude – taking time to self-reflect is hugely beneficial and will help you identify your triggers as well as meditate on ways that will be best to manage them.
  • • Take time off – spend time in nature, go for a hike or a walk on the beach or go camping somewhere without signal. This will help you regroup.
  • • Start doing yoga – there are many basic yoga poses or routines that directly help with stress. Practicing even very basic yoga will help with your overall well-being, both mentally and physically.



Although we all respond to stress differently, choosing substance abuse or other forms of addiction to deal with stress will only be detrimental to your life.

Seeking to join a rehabilitation programme to help you with your addiction recovery is the first step to a healthier, stronger you.

Recovering from addiction is not impossible. Step Away Rehab Centre in Port Elizabeth is here to help you overcome your addiction and to help you find other ways to deal with life’s pressures.

Contact us, for more information about our recovery programmes.

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