Friday, November 13, 2009

Substance Use as a Coping Mechanism

"I rarely drink at work, but frequently smoke marijunana before or at work. It makes me more sociable. I consume GHB at work sometimes too. It has the same effect. I usually have an Ativan (lorazepam) in my purse in case I get an anxiety attack, but that has only ever happened at one club, twice."


Many people use substances to cope with the stresses of life. Whether it is a glass of wine in the evening or a doobie in the morning, substance use is a common coping mechanism.

If you find that you are using substances to cope, it is good that you are at least aware of it. Try to monitor your substance use to reduce its harmful effects.

If you notice you are increasing your use or binging, you could be experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma or PTSD. This is when you should be most attentive to yourself, using self-care strategies and/or seeking therapy.

Attempt to find ways other than substance use, or in conjunction with less substance use, to stay sane. (See "Staying Sane" in this chapter.)

One very good coping mechanism is to phone someone you trust and debrief with him or her on a regular basis, especially if you’ve had a disturbing experience. If you can do this in person, that’s even better. Sharing your experiences with another person you trust is very healing.

(See Chapter 6 - Our Bodies – for more information on substance use, their effects, and self-care strategies for substance users.)

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