Stress can play a harmful role in triggering a vicious cycle that creates uncontrollable impulses and an occupation with negative feelings. These negative feelings can become intense and overwhelming that a person struggles with impulse control and may give into the temptation of food cravings and binge-eat.
Research has found that when individuals are facing a challenging situation with which they are stressed they struggle to utilize their skills for coping. To further elaborate, a threshold moment occurs during which some type of difficulty or trigger prevents a person from accessing his or her cognitive resources. The manner in which the emotions were flooding the person were connected to a greater risk of relapse in any type of addiction. Individuals report a loss of control and a desire to engage in the behavior they are training to abstain from.
Studies have clearly established a pattern of stress-induced craving for addictive behavior– both for those early in recovery and those who were actively using. Not only were higher levels of anxiety and negative emotions making the recovering individuals seek relief from the stress; the stress was increasing the craving for the addictive behavior.
Subsequent studies conclude that stress played an important role in the loss of self-control across a spectrum of addictive behaviors, including gambling and the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and food.
Addictive behaviors and habitual behaviors all have a direct effect on the biology of stress. Research has shown that stress breeds more stress. This is of particular concern to researchers and our health because there’s a direct link between stress, anxiety, depression and chronic disease.
Continuous stress decreases our ability to counteract potentially dangerous desires, such as cravings for addictive substances or foods. This is the dynamic that places children from troubled home environments, and people suffering from addictions, most at risk.
Science suggests that stress reduction interventions like mindfulness-based meditation can be extremely helpful to impact and disrupt the stress cycle. With addiction, a multi-treatment approach is recommended that includes therapy, meditation-based practices and medication.
Source: By Amanda Enayati, CNN Contributor
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