When Addiction Becomes Normal - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


When Addiction Becomes Normal

Why stress and drugs go hand-in-hand, why it’s so dang easy to overuse booze, and how to stop.


We see and hear about excessive drinking in celebrity gossip columns and shows, but more in a “she had fun” and “isn’t she wild” kind of way. Which begs the question: is substance abuse and addiction already a norm?

When Addiction Becomes Normal

When I started modeling and traveling on my own, I thought it would be a temporary period of heavy drinking. Passing out drunk several nights per week was “the norm”. I always figured it’d slow down after I officially graduated into “the real world”. I mean, how could working adults function at their jobs if they drank this much?

Well, I graduated and found out that, although most working women don’t get pass-out drunk on work nights (well, not usually!), they certainly do drink heavily, and the same pressure is there to partake. Networking over drinks, dinner meetings, hanging with friends… it all adds up, and before you know it you’ve had way more alcohol than your calorie counter (or liver) wanted you to.

When Addiction Becomes Normal

We all know that drinking is socially accepted, and that drinking to excess is, unfortunately, often encouraged by friends. Despite it being a social activity, some people fall into addiction in times of extreme stress. (hello: working women!) Studies have shown that stress can become the driving force behind addiction and –get this– it can go the other way around. Substance abuse also leads to your body creating more stress hormones, which causes a cyclical process that spares only the very strong-willed and resilient.

Researchers will tell you that alcohol and drug use affects the parts of the brain that are associated with rewards. Occasional drinking as a stress-reliever is a societally “normal” coping mechanism for individuals …but once chronic stress leads to habitual use of drugs and alcohol …then we have a problem.

When Addiction Becomes Normal

For some people, using substances provides a rush similar to extreme sports. When a surfer conquers a wave, she will look for a bigger one. Consequently, dopamine levels in extreme sports enthusiasts and risk-takers return to a low initial level after an activity that introduces an adrenaline rush. Likewise, an addict experiences the same rush to find a more fulfilling fix.

Say, for example, you get that job promotion in Paris. Your dopamine (feel-good brain chemicals) level increases immediately by 10-15%. Drugs and alcohol can increase that level three-fold, but there are consequences. For example, if you’re overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated, you may have the tendency to go to the pub and grab a margarita with colleagues in the same situation. This act, however, prompts your brain to go into stress mode by activating its stress systems and makes your brain particularly susceptible to the addictive impact of the alcohol. This, ladies, is how you get hooked.

When Addiction Becomes Normal

Occasional drinking is actually socially-accepted. However, addiction should not be.

People unintentionally get addicted, and the pattern begins with chronic stress. There are plenty of ways for an individual to resist substances, and the most effective is to reduce stress in your life. Here are some tricks to keeping yourself away from stressors:

Keep yourself busy and productive

Keep your mind working on other things such as hobbies and interests. Go to the gym, write on your blog, or do crafts. These give you a feeling of satisfaction, and what you achieve gets you on a similar high. To boot, you end up with a great body, a thought-provoking article, or jewelry that you can sell or give as gifts.

When Addiction Becomes Normal

Take time for a breather

This includes socializing or going out for a snack or pot of tea. Short breaks relieve you mentally and physically and can even improve your concentration.

Rethink or reconsider your time management scheme

Sometimes stress is induced by mismanagement of tasks. Urgent tasks and multitasking sometimes get too overwhelming, and you end up losing yourself in them. Try using software to keep track of your To-Dos and reminders.

Ask for help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it entails the courage to admit that you are not strong enough to handle a task alone.

We are all prone to stress. With the multiple roles we play both at home and at work, it’s easy to succumb to the easy and temporary way out. However, the best solution is to address the problem head-on.

Do you use substances more when you’re stressed out? How do you deal? 

Sarah enlightens us on a daily basis with the newest trends as (and often before) they transpire. She is the consummate globe trotter. Having traveled to over 70 countries, she earns her living writing, blogging and modeling while on the road. In her spare time she gets manicures, suntans on yachts in Greece, shops for even more shoes, and lives in the limelight. She loves photography, elephants, sailboats, bangles and ballet flats.

Reader Discussion: 119 Comments

  1. Amanda Carpenter

    A great way to relieve stress is to just simply freeing your mind with bad thoughts. Just think that every problem has and end and a solution.

  2. Cassandra Hines

    Those who commit suicide may be caused by severe stress.

  3. Ana Drake

    There are many factors why addiction occurs. It’s also caused by poverty, by family, influences, and society.

  4. Leslie Smith

    Simple addiction can be called normal like watching tv or anything that can’t to be too harmful for you.

  5. Katherine Turner

    Thank you for reminding us about stress. There are really many ways to lessen it so that it will not lead to addiction of alcohol and prohibited drugs.

  6. Josephine Strickland

    Severe stress can lead to nervous breakdown so instead of drinking alcohol might as well consult a doctor.

  7. Toni Newton

    Coffee can relieve stress you just have to take it with moderation. A cup of two will do for the whole day..😊

  8. Elsie Benson

    My stress relievers are my family, my friends, and my coffee…😉

  9. Harriet Baldwin

    There’s a lot of ways not to become addicted to something or anything. Yes it’s right that you can make yourself busy you can do different hobbies weekly. Anything that you will enjoy and will make you feel better.😌

  10. Shelia West

    Very well said Sarah! I am a fan of you. You’re writings are up to date and anyone can really relate! Love yah girl!😘

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