Penn StateStress management is essential but the harder we try to move away from stressful situations, life seems to find new ways of stressing us out. Experts from Penn State and the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery, Texas Tech University reveal that recovering addicts who abstain from coping with this negative factor give in easily to cravings that relapse during recovery.

Experts used information gathered from a daily diary study of college students specifically making an effort to recover. This was mainly done to evaluate the processes that stimulate cravings and restrict addicts from recovering. Experts observed approaches undertaken by these addicts to cope with stress either by working through the problem or by avoiding it. However avoiding stress may be harmful as they would experience cravings when faced with stressful situations and negative moods.

H. Harrington Cleveland, associate professor of human development, Penn State shares, “Cravings are a strong predictor of relapse. The goal of this study is to predict the variation in substance craving in a person on a within-day basis. Because recovery must be maintained ‘one day at a time,’ researchers have to understand it on the same daily level”.

Experts supplied Palm Pilots to 55 college students who were recuperating from substance abuse right from alcohol to cocaine and club drugs. They were asked to note down instances of cravings for alcohol and other drugs while also revealing about their bad social experiences like hostility, insensitivity, interference and ridicule. Experts further gained information about efforts taken by them to cope with such experiences.

Cleveland elucidates, “Whether you avoid problems or analyze problems not only makes a big difference in your life but also has a powerful impact on someone who has worked hard to stay away from alcohol and other drugs. When faced with stress, addicts who have more adaptive coping skills appear to have a better chance of staying in recovery”.

He further says that “We looked at variations in the number of cravings across days and found that these variations are predicted by stressful experiences. More importantly, we found that the strength of the daily link between experiencing stress and the level of cravings experienced is related to the participants’ reliance on avoidance coping”.

Experts observed that the relation between facing various stress situations in a day and experiencing substance use cravings doubled particularly for recovering addicts who tried to cope with stress by ignoring it.

Cleveland reveals, “We found that addicts who deal with stress by avoiding it have twice the number of cravings in a stressful day compared to persons who use problem solving strategies to understand and deal with the stress. Avoidance coping appears to undercut a person’s ability to deal with stress and exposes that person to variations in craving that could impact recovery from addiction.”

Scientists conclude that avoiding stress is not a positive approach as stressful experiences cannot be avoided. However Cleveland says that if your motto in life is to abstain from stress then your problems will gradually reduce and will not cause hindrance.

These findings appeared in a recent issue of Addictive Behaviors.