Stress and Self Medicating in Toronto, Ontario

Stress and Self Medicating in Toronto, Ontario

Stress can manifest itself in a variety of different ways and even though you may not realize it, these symptoms may be affecting your health mentally and physically.

Like drugs and alcohol, certain things should not be mixed. Stress and drinking can be a similarly toxic combination that has unfortunately become normalized. Studies suggest that individuals who claim to have high levels of stress show a propensity toward using alcohol consumption to mask their worries.

Although the more common effects of stress may be easy to recognize for some Canadians, this isn’t the case for everyone. Also, those that are in tune with their bodies may find stress management easier than others who may not be. The fact is that not all people are able to stop stress from manifesting in destructive ways including using drugs or alcohol to relieve that stress.

Common Signs of Stress

Being able to recognize signs of stress can give you a leg up on your stress management.

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach upset
  • Frequent insomnia

What is Stress and How Can It Lead to Alcoholism and Drug Addiction?

In the US, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines stress as anything that challenges the body’s ability to function in its usual fashion, heightening feelings of anxiety, anger, fear, excitement, or sadness. Stress manifests in several forms and can be caused by day-to-day stressors as well as traumatic events.

Some Canadians living with stress understand the appeal of using alcohol or drugs to get through difficult moments. Whether we are looking to manage stress, social anxiety or real, emotional pain, it is easy to fall victim to the belief that a few drinks or maybe getting high can safely take the edge off. The concept of self-medicating is really quite simple.

Canadians have different reasons for drinking. Some associate the activity with socializing or celebrating, while others turn to alcohol to deal with outside pressures or responsibilities. While drinking may provide temporary relief, using alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress can have disastrous long-term consequences.

When people find themselves unable to manage their stress, a couple of drinks suddenly makes them feel lighter, more confident, less self-conscious or relaxed. They feel more able to cope with their stress if even momentarily. Before they know it, stress, anxiety, worry and depression seem to fade away. This can be alluring to anyone dealing with complicated emotions, trauma or life experiences.

One group that knows the pitfalls of drinking to alleviate stress all too well is Ontario students. Due to the different types of pressure they face, they are more likely to develop a substance use disorder. Despite the common association between binge drinking and celebratory events on college campuses, the primary reason students drink appears to be to combat unstable, negative emotions. Researchers instructed freshman students in a US college to record their drinking activity and any instances of stress in a journal, discovering that students who noted more daily stressors were more inclined to drink. This study concluded that students were eight percent more likely to drink every time an additional stress trigger was introduced. The researchers also found that the individuals who drank more on high-stress days were more at risk of developing alcoholism by their senior year.

Alcoholic beverages may help some people relax, but drinking alcohol to make stress subside is not advisable. This mentality can cause individuals to mistakenly turn to alcohol as a mood enhancer and a crutch for dealing with real-world issues.

When Self-Medicating for Stress and Anxiety Turns to Dependency in Toronto, Ontario

Unfortunately, the problems that follow the short-lived benefits of self-medicating with alcohol or drugs are harder to notice. One of the most common problems is that they slowly but surely begin to depend on substances to cope with the stress which only adds to the stress. 

Essentially, these Canadians will develop a solution for their stress without ever learning how to cope with it on their own with a mood-altering substance. Their inner ability to manage anxiety and stress is removed and replaced with a quick fix. 

If you are in Ontario and have an anxiety disorder or are experiencing unmanageable stress that has led to a dependency on alcohol or drugs our Interventionists and recovery coaches can help. Any alcohol or drug dependencies need to be treated as not only are they keeping you from addressing and resolving the actual problems that are causing your stress but they are also taking you further away from finding your own inner ability to cope with your stress. 

In the end, there is one very important concept to know about self-medicating stress is that anyone can easily get hooked on the idea of self-medicating and turn to it more often which can lead to a full out drug or alcohol substance abuse problem. When dependency deepens, so does our anxiety and stress about the dependency. You will essentially develop another behaviour to hide. The perpetual cycle of dependency creates increased anxiety and stress along with growing shame and a greater distance between you and your ability to rely on your own inner devices to cope.

Intervention and treatment are generally required to break this cycle and deal with the real issues and trauma behind the stress and addiction. Interventions and Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) can be arranged in Ontario or anywhere in Canada through our private interventionists and substance abuse experts. Reach out today at 1-888-988-5346.

How Does Drinking and Drug Use Increase Stress Levels?

While many in Ontario use drugs or alcohol to deal with stress, the use of these substances tends to cause greater stress in the short and long term. Substance abuse problems can negatively impact school or work performance, familial and romantic relationships, and finances, intensifying the potential stress triggers that caused the individual to drink in the first place.

Aside from altering behaviour and interpersonal relationships, alcohol puts stress on the mind. This phenomenon is so common that the colloquial term “hangxiety” has become more widely used to describe feelings of anxiety during a hangover. A night of drinking use can actually trigger stress since as alcohol is removed from the body, blood sugar levels fall, aggravating symptoms of anxiety.

An article for the Research Society on Alcoholism demonstrates that alcohol also places more stress on the body in physiological terms by increasing levels of cortisol, a hormone the body naturally generates when stressful events occur. Though cortisol can be beneficial in smaller increments, high levels of the hormone can have damaging consequences, including inflammation, spikes in blood sugar, high blood pressure, and diminished cognitive abilities. The same study found that individuals who experience alcohol dependence or abuse display higher concentrations of cortisol during both inebriation and withdrawal. When the presence of cortisol throughout the body becomes chronic, individuals may suffer from the central nervous system and organ damage.

Healthy Methods Recommended To Manage Stress

Prevention – Prevention is better than cure, and stress that’s left to fester can contribute to mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, along with physical problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. So before your shoulder stiffness becomes a real pain in the neck, here are some methods for effectively reducing stress:

Practice Mindfulness – Take time every day to sit and be in the present moment. Daily mindfulness sessions cultivate a clear state of mind and by focusing on the here and now, people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to feel anxious about the future or replay events from the past.

Physical Activity – Find some type of physical activity that you enjoy and try to incorporate it into your daily routine. The key benefit of exercise is to increase the body’s oxygen supply which helps everything function at its best, including your mental state, as the release of happy hormones flow through your body.

Stay Hydrated – Flushing your system with plenty of water can be a great way to keep healthy and hydrated, along with helping your skin settle down. The recommended intake for general health is 1 litre per 25kg, so fill up your water bottle and drink your H2O.

Stretching & Yoga – Regular yoga practice can not only help the body with balance and strength but can focus on clearing and calming the mind. This can regulate the stress response system by reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure and easing respiration.

Managing Stress and Alcohol/Drug Misuse in Ontario

When it comes to managing your stress, counselling is vital. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI) are examples of clinical treatment offerings that are helpful for people with anxiety and alcohol dependence. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on how emotions influence behavioural patterns. People afflicted by co-occurring disorders may also favour Motivational Interviewing, a counselling technique centred on encouraging the client to set and accomplish goals.

Additionally, those struggling with alcohol use and mental health disorders can try holistic therapies such as yoga and meditation to help alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress. For those who feel like they are alone in their struggle, AA meetings or other peer support groups can provide them with the community support and guidance they need. The first step is to know that your questions and feelings are normal. The next step is to talk to someone about those feelings. 

Treatment for Stress, Alcohol and Drug Dependencies in Ontario

If the simple list above seems overwhelming and not enough to help stop the cycle you are in, looking at private treatment options in Ontario might be a better option for you. First off, know that recovery is a continuous journey. The fact that you are taking the time to research stress relief and recovery options is a promising step in the right direction. If you are looking at private treatment options in Ontario, know the longer you undergo treatment, the greater your chance for long-term sobriety is. 

We only work with accredited private detox and treatment centres in Ontario and around the world. We treat our clients as individuals and recognize the treatment is not a one size fits all solution. We can work with you and your family to find the right program in Ontario or elsewhere. Let us explain the process and options to you.

Private Detox

For individuals dependent on drugs or alcohol, the journey of recovery often starts with detox. This critical process of removing toxic substances from the body serves as the catalyst for a healthier life free from addiction. We can offer private rooms and suites for those individuals who are unable to disconnect from a demanding professional or personal life, and those looking for an added level of confidentiality and comfort. Detox is medically assisted and medications may be prescribed to make it a more comfortable experience helping you stay with it. Through Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) severe cravings and withdrawal symptoms can be minimized, allowing you to gain greater mental clarity so that you can fully commit to your addiction treatment program.

Private Residential Treatment

Inpatient residential treatment in Ontario serves as the catalyst for you to completely transform your life and gain the tools needed to maintain sobriety after completing treatment. We only work with licensed and credentialed clinicians with extensive experience in the field of substance-abuse treatment who guide you through recovery and into a life full of possibility. In our Ontario private residential treatment centres, you are removed from the stress, triggers, and temptations of everyday life so you can focus only on your recovery. Substance abuse counselling and education are essential to help you better understand and overcome your alcoholism or drug addiction. Through a wide array of clinical therapies and services, you will uncover the root of your addiction, better understand your behaviour, as well as learn positive stress-coping and relapse-prevention skills that will empower you to lead a substance-free life. No two individuals are alike and neither are their recovery journeys. Our private residential treatment programs provide a robust range of traditional addiction treatments and alternative wellness therapies to help you find the right mix of offerings that work best for you and your recovery in Ontario.

Outpatient Services

When it is difficult to take time away from family, work, or school to focus on addiction treatment our trained Interventionists and drug and alcohol recovery experts can arrange Outpatient Services in Toronto or elsewhere in Ontario. It’s a convenient and effective solution for many individuals. With multiple outpatient centres in Ontario, flexible hours, and teleconference service options, you can access quality addiction treatment that fits seamlessly with your schedule and smoothly integrates into your daily life. Substance abuse counselling and education are essential to help you better understand and overcome your alcoholism or drug addiction. Through a wide array of clinical therapies and services, you will uncover the root of your addiction, better understand your behaviour, as well as learn positive stress-coping and relapse-prevention skills that will empower you to lead a substance-free life.

After Care

At Andy Bhatti Interventions and Addiction Services, we are there to help you every step of the way. Even after you have completed your programs and treatment. We work with you to create a detailed aftercare plan that enables you to build on the progress you have made in treatment. We work with you to coordinate and make your transition back home to Ontario as stress-free as possible. Our goal is not only to help you achieve sobriety but to help you successfully adjust to your new sober life outside of treatment. We will work closely with you and your loved ones to ensure that you have the tools and support to move forward in your recovery.

Family Counselling

Family therapy helps you and your family address how addiction has impacted your lives, allowing you and your family to begin a parallel healing process. We can help you and your loved ones work on building trust, improving communication, establishing healthy boundaries, and practicing self-care to foster healthy family dynamics that strengthen recovery. Our family support services are designed to provide help and information for families in Ontario with loved ones struggling with stress and addiction. With the guidance and support from our Interventionists and Addiction Specialists, families will learn how to best support their loved one’s recovery while relearning how to take care of their own needs.

Managing Stress in Recovery 

Stress-related illnesses and addiction can be debilitating, so combining some of the methods we have mentioned along with a healthy diet and learning to recognize your stress-indicators before they take hold is vitally important. If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, alcoholism, stress, anxiety or depression, please take a look at our website or contact one of our Interventionists to find out more about our holistic drug and alcohol programs right here in Toronto and throughout Ontario call us at 1-888-988-5346.

Balancing relationships, work, health, spirituality, and a sense of wholeness in recovery can be challenging. With guidance from a supportive network of peers, clinicians, and medical providers, a healthy work-life balance in recovery is possible. We encourage clients in early recovery to break up their day into manageable pieces. It is important to remind ourselves that we do not need to get everything accomplished all at once.

A person leaving recovery in Ontario will usually be given a fairly big list of things they must accomplish within their first year or so of recovery. Altogether, it may seem daunting even if each task by itself is simple. Here are some tips and methods we have gathered to help you manage stress and prevent relapse AFTER you have completed your private detox and treatment program in Ontario.

Using a System Instead of Goals

An alternative to the to-do list for coping with stress in recovery can be to make a system that works for you. Addiction recovery should be seen as a life-long process and not something that can necessarily be completed. Coping with stress in early recovery may become easier as time goes by, but as soon as you decide that you have fully recovered and you no longer need the relapse prevention coping skills, then you put yourself in danger of losing all that you’ve created for yourself. The goal of recovery should not just be to refrain from drug or alcohol use, but it should be what comes after healthy habits, new-found happiness and a new lifestyle.

The following looks at why a system for coping with stress in recovery is better than setting goals.

  • Completion of goals – The problem with using goals or a to-do list in recovery is that once you achieve them, motivation tends to fade. Not only can the lack of motivation be a downward spiral, but the overconfidence caused by achieving a goal can actually lead to a relapse.
  • To-do list urgency causing stress – While goals can help with coping with stress in early recovery, if some goals are taking too long to complete, it can put pressure and stress on a person. If you set a timeline that you would like to have made amends and the timeline expires, you may feel disappointment and stress by the apparent failures in recovery; however, you may be right on track with recovery regardless of one or two goals.
  • Self-doubt – There is a fear of failure that a person can get when they realize that there are goals on their list that might be difficult to achieve. This fear can result in self-doubt and negative thoughts, ultimately causing anger, frustration and annoyance – classic relapse triggers.

Don’t let a to-do list undermine the hard work you have put in. Look at your recovery as a life-long process more attuned to a new lifestyle than a set of goals.

Set an Intention

The foundation of a healthy work-life balance begins with an intention you set for yourself in the beginning of the day. This may include meditating for ten minutes before the chaos of your day begins. An intention could include a positive affirmation. In addition to providing yourself with a mantra, grounding yourself with reminders to take things one day at a time may also be helpful before a hectic workday. If even that feels too overwhelming, adjust the mantra to one hour at a time.

Empower Yourself

Be kind to yourself each day. Some workdays may feel more strenuous than others. It’s crucial to honour the messages your mind and body are giving you each workday. If you need a five-minute break to stretch or deep breathe, take it! Be honest with yourself when asking your mind, body and soul, What do I need today in order to be productive? The answer may be different each day, and that is perfectly okay. Being in early recovery involves self-compassion and kindness, so don’t forget to end each workday with a message of inner strength and compassion for yourself.

Recognize Triggers in the Workplace

As you become more open and honest with yourself in early recovery, you may discover that your professional career is not conducive to a life in sobriety. If this is the case, you have the choice to choose a different career path. This does not show weakness, but more so inner strength because of your decision to honour your recovery. Protect your recovery, as it is precious. Do not allow your work environment to dictate your success in recovery.

Stay Connected

Make time for your program. Ensure you are carving out time to go to support meetings, meet with your recovery coach or counsellor. If your soul feels fulfilled in attending support groups and working your program, it is more likely you will feel confident and capable in completing a full workday. It is equally as important to make time to talk to supporters throughout the day. Check-in with your sober network to feel a sense of community and connection to others during a long day.

Balancing work and your recovery can feel overwhelming but it can also be an exciting moment in your life to explore what you are capable of, now sober, in a working environment. Try to replace negative words you may associate with returning to work, such as anxiety, stress, or worry, with words like excitement, and see if there is a different energy about beginning a workday. In order to incorporate a healthy work-life balance, don’t be afraid to lean on peers, recovery advocates, friends, and family, for support when reintegrating to work. Practice positive self-talk and create an optimistic intention to begin your workday for a grounded mind and body. By incorporating these tools, you will find yourself navigating the work and life balance in early recovery with ease.

For Interventions and Treatment Options in Ontario Contact Us

If you or someone you know cannot stop drinking or using a substance, we can help. Andy Bhatti’s Intervention and Addiction Services offer the steps needed to overcome the painful experience of addiction. We offer one–on–one counselling, couples support and family interventions to fight the disease of addiction that affects everyone involved, not just the one drinking. Let us guide you through the steps necessary to find recovery and restore a happy healthiness to your family.

There are a few ways you can get in touch with us by phone at 1-888-988-5346, email at or contact form at We’re here to help!

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