CDATA[[_Stress_) is a mainstay of the 21st-century lifestyle. For people suffering from alcohol dependence or drug addiction, stress can actively work against recovery. As a countermeasure, many alcohol rehabilitation centers incorporate relaxation training into the recovery process. Relaxation training can help problem drinkers stay sober once they return to their stressful, everyday lives.
Stress Interferes with Alcohol Rehabilitation
For all the advances in modern civilization and technology, it is hard to dismiss the suspicion that life has become much more complicated than it needs to be. Smart phones, online bill payment and self-help books promise to simplify lives. People jump-start their day with energy drinks, only to wind it down with insomnia-smashing depressants. Twelve-hour work days, corporate cutbacks and escalating unemployment give new meaning to the word hectic, and it seems like one after another television advert is playing on this frenzy, pitching products, treatments and a regimen of prescription drugs that promise to melt the stress away.
Stress as a driving force in the 21st century could easily be dismissed as something that has been foisted on the masses by ad agencies to turn a profit. But there is strong evidence for the real impacts of stress on public health. A study by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine found that somewhere between six and nine out of every ten visits to a medical office in the US can be pinned on a stress-related disorder. For people struggling with alcohol and drug problems, stress becomes a serious factor that can interfere with alcohol rehabilitation, trigger relapse and frustrate important relationships.
With that in mind, learning how to relax is one of the most important things a person struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction can do. Counselors in rehabilitation centers train alcoholics and addicts in the art of reducing stress, to great effect.
Relaxation Techniques for Alcoholics
There are several different relaxation techniques that a recovering alcoholic can employ in his or her quest for sobriety. In some cases, these can be incorporated into other rehabilitation procedures like meditation or hypnosis, though most relaxation techniques can also stand alone.
These are some of the most popular relaxation techniques used to aid drug and alcohol rehabilitation:
* Breathing exercises: are used to calm the mind. Breathing practices focus on breathing diaphragmatically (belly breathing), while keeping awareness in the here-and-now, i.e., the present moment. Here-and-now meditation takes the breath as the focus of attention. Methods and strategies vary, and breathing exercises can be coupled with some sort of imagery exercise used to strengthen the mind’s resistance to cravings.
* Meditation: practice is very beneficial. It is used for eliciting the relaxation response, which is “a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress.” Mindfulness meditation also cultivates the ability to become less reactive to situations allowing one to act more so with conscious, mindful choice.
* Progressive muscle relaxation: may begin with the subject simultaneously tensing as many muscles as possible. Muscle groups are relaxed in a particular order, perhaps beginning with the head and ending with the feet. This is repeated until a deep sense of relaxation sets in, as well as the release of muscle tension.
Relaxation Helps Alcoholic Rehabilitation
Stress is a primordial fight-or-flight response, and its effect on the body can sometimes feel disproportionate to the source of conflict. For example, a hectic day at the office is hardly a life-and-death situation, but it still results in an adrenal cocktail, soaring blood pressure and an increased rate of breathing. These responses can be detrimental to the alcoholism recovery curve.
For alcoholics accustomed to drinking to relieve stress, the instinctive response to a stressful day at work might be to stop for a drink on the way home. The body knows from experience that this is an effective short-term solution, and it pushes for an alcohol-induced sense of equilibrium.
Relaxation Helps Fight the Urge to Drink
Urges like this can be irresistible in the wake of a stressful situation, especially for a recovering addict without any other equalizers in the arsenal. Relaxation techniques can lower blood pressure, reduce muscle tension, calm breathing and dampen the heart rate. As these natural responses to stress subside, rational decision-making becomes much easier. Cravings can be allayed and relapse averted.
Relaxation and Addiction Recovery
Learning to relax is about more than just slowing down and taking a deep breath. As a powerful alcohol rehabilitation aid, relaxation is a state of mind that has to be developed. This requires training and professional guidance.
Furthermore, no amount of relaxation will detoxify the body or reverse the damage which drugs or alcohol may have already inflicted. This requires prolonged, professional treatment at a rehabilitation center. But with a primary treatment underway, relaxation techniques can become a powerful coping mechanism and may be the difference between relapse and recovery. Best of all, tools like relaxation are as useful at home as they are in the alcohol rehabilitation clinic. Those who have mastered these techniques can apply them to a range of stressful situations outside the area of addiction.]]>