844.744.TRUE (8783) [email protected]

Tips to curve reaching for substances in times of stress

September 4, 2021

We encounter stressful situations and experiences many times per week, whether at work, home, or school; it’s inevitable. 

As an individual who may be navigating through recovery from substance abuse, sometimes extra added stress can elevate the desire to reach for substances. 

As you likely know by now, relapsing while in recovery is a strong possibility, especially during the first year following treatment. 

“The relapse rate for substance use disorders is estimated to be between 40 percent and 60 percent.”

American Addiction Centers

For those undergoing treatment for substance abuse or those in recovery, it’s crucial to understand how to positively cope when faced with the stresses of life. 

Here are three quick tips on how to curve reaching for substances in times of stress.


When in recovery, it’s important to take the time to identify and avoid triggers. Understanding what encourages you to reach for substances is vital in maintaining sobriety. 

One way you can identify what your triggers are is by journaling. When journaling, document each time you feel triggered to reach for substances, and be sure to include what you were doing, feeling, and experiencing at the time of the trigger. After creating somewhat of a logbook in your journal, you’ll have the ability to examine each entry and identify patterns in your triggers. 

Once you have identified what your ongoing triggers are, avoid them at all costs. 


No matter what a person is facing in life, whether good or bad, it’s always imperative to plan. Having a plan especially comes in handy while in recovery from substance abuse. 

When you are triggered to reach for substances and need to curve that urge, having a plan could be the one thing that keeps you sober. Ask yourself, “What do I genuinely enjoy doing?” If you enjoy running, when you’re triggered, go for a run. Maybe it’s dancing? Turn on some loud music and create a new dance routine. Or, if it’s playing basketball, grab your ball and immediately head to the court. 

“Sometimes you can’t avoid triggers which may be feelings you have or a physical condition that comes on from time to time. Once you experience the urge, distract yourself with something that takes your attention. Then check back in with yourself in, say 30—45 minutes and see if the urges intensity has changed.”

Check Up & Choices


It’s so important to build healthy relationships while in and beyond recovery. But, it’s even more important to let go of relationships with people who provide a toxic environment or enable you with your habit. 

When navigating through recovery, sober family, friends, and colleagues could heavily assist with building a more healthy lifestyle and help you avoid situations that could lead you to a relapse. 

If at the moment you do not have any healthy relationships with loved ones, friends, or colleagues, do not worry. Joining a support group is a great place where you could connect with other people that you could relate to and a space where you could also build lifelong healthy friendships. 

About True

True provides a wide variety of essential resources for people struggling with mental health, addiction, and personal development, all tailored to address unique needs and goals. We offer a space where you can work with trained, caring professionals to overcome obstacles and achieve potential in every aspect of life. Call us at (844) 744-TRUE(8783).