Drugs Are Ineffective At Stress Relief. Here's What Works…

Nearly 20% of Americans take some type of drug every day to relax, according to a recent Gallup survey. But, as they say in those late-night TV commercials, that’s not all; respondents who reported using drugs to relax scored significantly lower on a Well-Being Index than those who said they never or rarely took drugs. So what options do adults have for handling stress—an inevitable part of life—without taking or abusing drugs, like nicotine, alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit drugs? When it comes to building the resilience to face adversity in a healthy way, we know what works for children and teens. Research suggests specific factors help kids successfully weather hardship in life, including:

  • Having a supportive relationship with a caring adult, like a parent or caregiver;
  • Having an opportunity to build the skills that help them adapt to change, stress, or trauma;
  • Enjoying positive experiences.

At Compass Mark, we’ve seen firsthand how programs that provide children with these opportunities make a measurable difference. Those same factors can help adults cope with adversity too, whether that stress stems from a job loss, a crumbling relationship, or an ailing parent. Here are strategies to build resilience so you can cope with stress—without relying on unhealthy and, ultimately, ineffective drugs: Nurture supportive relationships: There’s no question about the power positive relationships have at any age. Make time to be with the people who lift you up and support you. In addition, don’t be afraid to reach out to family members or friends who are struggling. A simple “Hi!” paired with a smile and a hug might make that person’s day—and it will probably make your day too! You can also look for fun activities to share, like Riddle Quest (pictured above), an annual scavenger hunt through Lancaster City, which raises funds for Compass Mark’s teen leadership programs. Create positive experiences: This can seem a daunting task, particularly when you’ve hit a rough patch in your own life. However, you can create positive experiences without resorting to alcohol and other substances:

  • Learn a new skill: Acquiring new skills builds confidence and expands boundaries, but the challenge also provides the opportunity to learn how to manage “positive stress,” which, in turn, builds the skills to manage other types of stress in a healthy way. Choose an activity you’ve always wanted to learn, like playing an instrument or learning a sport, or take classes that will help you advance in a current job or help you build a new career.
  • Volunteer: Research suggests that giving time and talent to aid others lowers depression levels, increases life satisfaction, and boosts physical health. Learn more in Volunteering Does the Body Good. Feel the benefits yourself by giving time to a cause you love. If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities in Lancaster County or Lebanon County, PA, check out the opportunities at Compass Mark.

Since 1966, Compass Mark has provided addiction education, prevention, and treatment resources to individuals and families. For confidential addiction help or guidance, call 717-299-2831 or visit Get Help Now.