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Chapter 5 - The Wrong Ways To Deal With Stress

The right way to deal with stress will be discussed in the next chapter. Unfortunately, many people do not know the right ways to deal with stress and decide to deal with stress in the following ways:

 Drinking alcohol to excess;
Illicit drugs;
Risky sex practices;
Violent behavior

Most people who are alcoholics suffer from depression caused by stress. They use alcohol as a way to make themselves “feel better” about their stress and the related anxiety and depression that it causes. They are, in fact, self medicating. Instead of getting to the root of the cause of their stress, they prefer to mask the stress with alcohol.

Alcohol works to numb the effects of the stress and does relieve anxiety. Unfortunately, alcohol is a depressant and only serves to magnify the depression. Alcohol is also addictive both mentally and physically. People who abuse alcohol can expect to live a shorter lifespan than others due to diseases of the liver as well as the heart that are caused by alcohol abuse. In addition to that, they usually do not have many friends except those that they meet in the bar. Chances are that their alcohol abuse will take its toll on both their professional and personal life.

If you think that you can deal with stress by any of the above methods, you are wrong. Alcohol is not a “cure” for stress. It will, however, eventually lead to more stress in your life such as:

 DUI arrests;
Being fired from your job;
Your spouse leaving you;
Your children not having any respect for you;
Financial issues;
Health issues.

Using alcohol is definitely a mask and not a cure when it comes to eliminating stress from your life. The same goes for using illegal drugs and tranquilizers. Many people will go to the doctor and complain about stress. Quicker than a fast draw at a Wild West shootout, the doctor will pull out his prescription pad and write a prescription for a tranquilizer. Tranquilizers are virtually booze in a pill. Only they are twice as addictive. Like alcohol, they have a tendency to build up a tolerance, requiring an increased dosage to get the same effect.

Tranquilizers can be very effective if they are used properly. For example, if someone experiences the loss of a loved one, they may be prescribed tranquilizers for a brief period of time. However, they should not be used as a long term cure for anxiety or depression caused by stress. And they should be monitored, not given out freely as many of them are in today’s society.

Many people who are addicted to illegal drugs suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder or depression. The drugs allow them to cope. There is really no difference between someone who is an alcoholic or a drug addict except that one vice is legal and the other illegal.

Risky sex practices, overspending or violence can all be indicators of an underlying mental problem that was probably brought on by stress. In some cases, it can be the result of bi-polar disorder, which used to be called “manic depressive personality.” Chances are that they are using money, sex or violent behavior as a means to control their environment because of undue stress.

If you are suffering from stress, do not assume that a tranquilizer will be the “cure all” for your condition. Again, doctors are very quick to prescribe tranquilizers, yet very few will tell you to “have a drink.” Yet tranquilizers are just as dangerous and addictive. In fact, they can be more dangerous and very easy to abuse.

Do not attempt to self medicate yourself with drugs or alcohol. Although this may “take the edge off” of your stress, this is a case where the cure can be worse than the disease. In some cases, it can have tragic results, as in the case of Sam.

Sam was very stressed out after he lost his job and went to the doctor suffering from what the doctor diagnosed as a “panic attack.” The doctor promptly prescribed an antidepressant as well as a tranquilizer to “take the edge off” of the panic attack. Sam really liked the tranquilizer as it did, indeed, take the edge off of his panic. It felt pretty good and he didn’t even get a headache from it.

The prescription for the tranquilizers was soon exhausted so Sam went back to the doctor to get some more tranquilizers. As these pills are only supposed to be used on a short term basis, the doctor did not want to prescribe them for Sam, but relented as Sam begged. He told Sam that he would give him one more prescription for the tranquilizers and that was it. He also advised Sam to “wean himself off” of the pills.

Sam couldn’t “wean himself off” of the pills. As a matter of fact, he seemed to need more and more of the pills to achieve any effect at all. Where he began by taking one pill, he was not up to five at a time. He knew he was going to run out of pills, so he went to another doctor and got another prescription. He had it filled at another drugstore and felt better.
Then Sam found something wonderful - the internet world of drugs! He found that for a few dollars more, he could order all of the controlled substances he wanted on the internet. So he began ordering more of his favorite prescription. While he was at it, he decided to try other tranquilizers as well. Sam was like a kid in a candy store. Before long, he had used up most of his savings on prescription medications he purchased online. But he didn’t care because he was feeling good.

Although he knew that he shouldn’t take the tranquilizers with alcohol, it didn’t seem to bother him. He was now up to seven pills and that he could do with still taking a drink. It had been quite some time since he actually fell asleep without some sort of medication. His entire life revolved around getting more tranquilizers.

The one or two times Sam actually tried to quit taking the tranquilizers, he felt as though he was crawling out of his skin. It was pure agony. Sam decided that it was far better to continue taking the pills. Unfortunately, he never thought to go to the doctor and tell him about his problem. Like many others, he thought that stress was “no big deal” and that he could solve the problem himself. Besides, the drugs were legal, right?

One night, he took seven tranquilizers and a drink before going to bed. He got a little sleepy and “forgot” that he had already taken tranquilizers and took some more. His landlady found his dead body the next afternoon after his girlfriend kept calling without getting an answer and Sam never showed up at work. Sam was only 26 years old.

Tranquilizers are not the answer. Alcohol is not the answer. Marijuana, heroin, morphine or any other drug is not the answer. You cannot lose yourself in the arms of multiple sex partners nor can you find the answer at the mall with an unlimited spending account. Your answer will not come from using anyone as a punching bag, either.

The answer to dealing with stress is to find the source of the stress and either eliminate it or deal with it in a healthy, head on manner.
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