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Self Medicating: How Playing Doctor Turns Into An Addiction

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Self medicating is a common reason for people to begin abusing drugs and can lead to addiction.  The idea behind self medicating is that the person wants to escape from their feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression and for their painful memories to recede.  Many people will self medicate because they do not know that there is a solution to their mental health issues.

Self Medicating and the Dual Diagnosis

For some, along with an addiction that stems from self medicating comes a mental illness issue that needs to be addressed and treated (dual diagnosis).  Mental illness can, in fact, actually increase the risk of alcohol and/or drug abuse.  Self medicating with the use of these substances can occur in someone suffering from the specific issues of depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and more.  These can each be a serious diagnosis and a visit to a doctor and/or psychiatrist may benefit the sufferer greatly, as only a professional can truly determine means of treatment for them.  If they continue to go without seeking a doctor’s opinion, they risk prolonging and even worsening their habit of self medicating.  The person may have grown accustomed to their drugs of choice, making them feel as though they can handle relationships better, boost their self-esteem, and control their range of emotions.  However, they do not realize that using an illegal substance for these is only a temporary fix, and that they have unleashed the beast of addiction that will keep them grabbing for an unstoppable amount of more.  It would best be to speak with someone and find legal, more reasonable, and beneficial methods of maintenance for their likely mental illness.

Natural Methods

Many people, both addicts and non-addicts alike, may want to try alternative, traditional, or natural methods of alleviating depressive symptoms. There are other ways like adding more sunlight to the day, eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, and taking supplements or vitamins for maximum health support.  Benefiting and providing relief for many, these methods tend to be good for someone who is “on the fence” about and questioning seeing an actual doctor.  There can be a lot of anxiety in seeing a doctor and hearing that something may be chemically imbalanced in your brain, but this is no reason to avoid one, especially if the person has been self medicating by using alcohol and/or drugs.  A good doctor will always have the patient’s best interest as their number one priority.

Addicts may like to believe that they have the solution in their mental health problems by self medicating, but this is incorrect.  Not only would participating in treatment through rehabilitation, outpatient programs, therapy, or a 12-Step Fellowship help the addict recover, but a visit to the doctor might as well do them some good.  An addiction to a substance can be a sign of an underlying mental illness that self medicating will not fix

If you or someone you know may be self medicating or needs treatment for the addiction, contact The Watershed today.

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