This post is featured on behalf of Jenna Brown.


If you’ve been faced with some life-altering challenges or unexpected setbacks in your life, your first response may be to reach for a drink or pop a pill to help you relax.

Most people can have a drink or two and recover fine without any long-term consequences. However, if you struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction or abuse, you’ll need to find other ways to cope.

Here are just a few suggestions when it comes to finding more positive ways to cope with unforeseen challenges that life may bring:

Talk To A Professional

If you’ve recently suffered the loss of a loved one in your life, such as one of your parents, the only thing you may want to do is numb the pain and forget about your worries. But turning to drinking or another addictive method of coping can wreak havoc on your sobriety if you’re a recovering addict.

A solution is to seek professional help. Setting up an outpatient visit with a psychiatrist or addiction counselor can help give you some positive coping skills including:

  • Individual one-on-one therapy to help discuss pressing issues that may seem out of control.
  • Therapy sessions in a group setting to help you be accountable.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to recognize and avoid possible triggers to drink or use alcohol.
  • Contingency management therapy may be offered and means receiving rewards from your counselor or others for clean living behavior.

Seeking professional help before you abuse drugs or alcohol will decide the difference between an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program for you.

Connect With Positive Relationships

Do you have two different types of friends in your life? Those who love to go out and party all the time and those who are more responsible? While people do turn to alcohol for relaxing and having a good time, it has the potential to make the situation worse.

For example, if you’ve been struggling with the stress of caring for a senior parent or ailing loved one, alcohol can seem like a great stress reliever. If you’re using it as a coping mechanism to deal with personal issues, it can quickly lead to addiction and substance misuse. Focus on spending time with family and friends who don’t engage in heavy alcohol use in a non-triggering setting. And remember to ask these same friends and family members for help and relief from caregiving when you need it.

Improve Your Health

If stress, caring for children, and/or everyday life seems overwhelming, now is the most important time to care for your health. Your physical health impacts how well you deal with mental health and stressful life events. Take time out to:

  • Exercise daily. The American Heart Association suggests 30 minutes each day for optimal health.
  • Get more sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for adults. 
  • Engage in a hobby that brings you peace of mind.
  • Eat regular, healthy meals.
  • Visit the doctor routinely and stay proactive with your health.
  • Seek counseling or therapy to gain positive tools for coping with stress.

Making sure that you maintain a healthy lifestyle and improving your health in needed areas will help you cope with serious life challenges in a positive way.

Avoid The Bar Scene 

A big life stressor can be starting a new job or taking on a new responsibility at your current job. Fatigue can make it hard to deal with work and shuffling new tasks at hand.

If you’ve gone through a traumatic life event such as a separation or divorce, the stress levels can pile up and make your more at risk for substance abuse. Stay away from after work cocktails with friends on a routine basis. If you’ve had a drinking problem in the past, supplement a night out at the bar with an AA meeting or check in with your sponsor instead.

Volunteer Your Free Time

Volunteering in your community will take up extra time in your schedule. You will also feel positively about giving back to your community and practicing compassionate behavior. This is especially important to keep in mind as children of those who struggle with substance abuse and alcoholism have a greater risk of the same struggle as compared to those who don’t. Getting in this habit early will set a positive example for your family.

Fighting substance abuse is a challenge, especially when a huge life event takes center stage. Learn ways to cope, so you can be strong for yourself and others at the same time.