Situations of unrelenting pressure can trigger a neuro-chemical interaction of the brain and the emotions - a "fight or flight" response, or stress.
Such stress is good when it can be effectively managed with appropriate resources.
But it becomes harmful when ineffectively managed with inadequate resources or inappropriate interventions, such as substance or body abuse that can lead to addiction.
People who face the intense pressure of competition or public opinion, such as athletes or politicians, often live life in a fishbowl, where they must only win and cannot lose.
This can put them on a downwards spiral, and they may turn to taking substances as a coping mechanism.
However, there are more effective coping interventions available, such as talking with someone who is accepting and non-judgmental.
Other coping methods include cultivating self-awareness that recognises one's limits and strengths, employing relaxation techniques, and getting personalised help from coaches or psychologists to develop mental toughness or emotional resilience.
These are simple steps which can be taken by those in high-stress environments to cope with pressure instead of being tempted to turn to substance use.
Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)