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Are You Self-Medicating?

man looking out on city considers are you self-medicating

Sometimes the pressure of daily life feels like it’s too much. There seems like there are more problems than solutions, and you might reach for drugs or alcohol because they’ll help you forget those problems for a little while. You may just be delaying your need to find a solution for a specific problem, though. You may be self-medicating. What does that mean, exactly? Rather than seeking medical advice or focusing on their health and well-being, a person uses drugs or alcohol to try and alleviate their symptoms, whether those symptoms are physical, mental and emotional, or a combination of all three.

If you are self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, know that an addiction treatment center can help. Through detox and rehabilitation, you can build a foundation for lasting recovery.

Recognizing Self-Medicating Behaviors

Just like addiction and recovery aren’t the same for everyone, each person might self-medicate for different reasons. There are some common reasons for self-medicating, however, and looking for situations that match is a good way to check if you or someone you know is self-medicating.

  • Have you recently experienced a major life change, such as a divorce, job loss, or the death of a loved one? These types of changes can be difficult to cope with.
  • Do you experience a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression?
  • Are there certain feelings that trigger the need for self-medicating? Feelings like sadness or anger that seem to come from nowhere?
  • Do your worries or problems just seem to get worse when you drink or use drugs?

There are many reasons someone may turn to self-medication rather than seeking treatment. It also may be hard to recognize there is something that needs to be diagnosed, particularly because of one common factor.

Stress: One of the Most Common Reasons for Self-Medication

Stress is often a major trigger for self-medicating. It may not be easy to see at first, however, because most people experience some level of stress on a daily basis. It’s when stress becomes unmanageable that it can lead to problems like self-medication.

Self-medicating for your stress can lead to more stress and can also make your drinking a larger problem. What if you’re more than stressed, though? What if the reason you drink or use drugs as a form of self-medication is to try and deal with feelings of overwhelming sadness that may be signs of depression?

Trying to Chase Depression Away

Depression can lead to a major sense of helplessness in your life. It’s important to remember depression isn’t as simple as feeling a little sad. There are multiple types of depression, all needing official medical diagnoses to treat them best. Studies show that drinking alcohol, while maybe leading to a short-term increase in feeling happy or outgoing, can contribute to not only potential alcohol use problems but can, in fact, worsen depression.

For someone dealing with depression, whether diagnosed or not, this can lead to relying on self-medicating to try and find that happy feeling sometimes associated with the early stages of drinking. When other drugs and substances come into the mix, the outcomes change slightly, although the one common factor is they make depression worse. It just changes how exactly the body is affected.

Has Self-Medication Turned Into Addiction?

Maybe you or someone you know started using alcohol or drugs to deal with stress, trauma, depression, or some combination of them all. The cycle of reacting to negative thoughts or emotions by self-medicating can lead to your body relying on those behaviors or even seeking out the substance when it feels even the beginning of stress, sadness, and so on.

Struggling to maintain daily routines and failing to accomplish basic necessities, like grocery shopping or basic hygiene, may be signs of addiction. Not being able to stop thinking about the next time you can drink or use a drug may also indicate your self-medication has turned into an addiction. If the amount of time spent self-medicating starts to exceed the time you aren’t, you may need to reach out to a licensed physician or psychotherapist.

Find Help for Self-Medicating Behaviors at Vertava Health Mississippi

Vertava Health Mississippi offers care for co-occurring conditions, so we’re uniquely set up to not only help with substance use but any co-occurring mental or emotional problem that might be there. And as you just read, self-medication is often happening because of another problem. We know you have it in you to change your life and the ability to work through the hard times. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help. Give us a call at 844.951.1931 if you or someone you know needs help.