The 'Why' Behind Addiction: Inability To Cope

By Gillian Burdett

May 9, 2018

Change causes stress. Even happy events — starting a new job or buying a new home — will trigger physiological responses that make you feel anxious or scared. You were born with the ability to feel, but as an infant, you had yet to develop the ability to processes your emotions. The part of your brain that assesses sensory input - what is happening around you - has not matured. You may become overwhelmed with emotions, but are incapable of logically sorting through them to determine if you are truly in danger.

As a child, you depended on your caregivers to provide reassurance that you are safe.  As you matured, you learned how to deal with stress and developed mechanisms for soothing your anxious mind. You learned coping strategies primarily by observing how your parents, or other caregivers, handled stress.

Coping mechanisms — the good and the bad

Some people reach out to others — friends, family or clergy — when overburdened with problems. Some deal with stress by using humor or engaging in relaxing activities. A soak in a hot tub or curling up with fat novel can tamp down anxious feelings. Others seek physical activity to sweat out their fears. However, not all coping mechanisms are healthy.

If you are battling addiction, it may be you never learned healthier ways of coping with problems. As a child, you may have observed adults relying on alcohol to deal with daily stressors, or you may have begun using and discovered it offered relief from anxiety. Learned habits can be unlearned. Negative coping mechanisms can be replaced with positive ones.

Feelings of helplessness feed stress. Confronting problems and developing a plan for dealing with them puts you in control. Once you identify the main stresses in your life, you can apply problem-solving strategies to create a plan - one that will include healthy ways to cope. As part of your program at Passages Malibu, you will receive one-to-counseling to help you develop that plan and begin your journey towards healthy living.

The news and editorial staffs of The World Famous KROQ had no role in this post's preparation.