Are You Using Drugs and Alcohol to Self Medicate?

Self Medicating Is a Common Cause of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

For people experiencing anxiety, depression, pain, stress, trauma, and all sorts of other life challenges, it’s so easy to pick up a drink, swallow a pill, or use some other substance to get some temporary relief.  However, it’s important to understand that using drugs and alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate frequently leads to addiction. People suffering from severe physical, emotional, and mental ailments often turn to alcohol and drugs because the substances are readily available.  But this is a quick fix that does nothing to address the real issues and can lead to much bigger problems.

At first, people find that these substances make them feel better. But over time the physical, mental, and emotional effects of drugs and alcohol will most definitely make things worse. To find solutions to the problem of addiction, it’s critical to understand how common it is for people to use drugs and alcohol to self medicate.

What Is Self Medicating?

Self-medicating means using drugs and alcohol in an attempt to manage pain, deal with emotional issues, or cope with a mental health disorder. The frequency and severity of using drugs and alcohol to self medicate are often underappreciated. Even medical professionals often miss the fact that their patients have been using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate for long periods of time.

What does it mean when someone is using drugs and alcohol in an attempt to feel better, and how can family members recognize the problem before it becomes an addiction and reaches an even more dangerous stage?

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at 877.969.1993 to learn how we can help.

Common Conditions That Lead to Self Medication

Substance abuse is often what’s known as a comorbid condition.  This means that addiction often coexists with other serious physical and emotional health conditions. The presence of these comorbidities can complicate addiction recovery.  However, recognizing how coexisting diagnoses influence each other can make efforts to achieve lifelong sobriety much more effective.

Many conditions can cause people to try to self medicate with alcohol and drugs. No matter what the cause, this self-medication is an attempt to feel better, but unfortunately, eventually, the opposite occurs.

Some factors that may cause an individual to self medicate with dangerous substances include:

  • Anxiety – Despite its mental health manifestation, anxiety is also a physical illness, and attempts to ease anxiety with drugs and alcohol are common.
  • Depression – Clinical depression is more than just feeling sad; it is a potentially life-threatening condition that many people attempt to treat with drugs and alcohol. Deep depression is a medical emergency, and it is essential to seek prompt attention from a professional.
  • ADHD – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, either diagnosed or undiagnosed, is often met with self-medication attempts. And while prescription drugs are often used to treat ADHD, attempts at self-medication can be dangerous and counterproductive.
  • Bipolar disorder – Bipolar disorder is another condition that people often try to self-medicate, especially when bipolar disorder is undiagnosed.  Attempts at self-medication for bipolar disorder are likely to make the problem worse, and a definitive diagnosis and treatment by a medical professional are essential.
  • Childhood abuse – Past abuse, whether physical, emotional, or sexual, can set the stage for substance use later in life. Those suffering from this kind of trauma may try to blunt the emotional pain with drugs and alcohol, but substance abuse only adds to the trauma over time.

Treating the Root Causes of Addiction

No one sets out to become an addict, but unfortunately falling into the cycle of substance abuse is not hard to do. If you realize you have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol and you’re ready to get into recovery and live a successfully sober life, you need to understand your problem’s root causes.

Effective addiction treatment means exploring and healing the underlying causes that lead a person to substance abuse. Underlying causes often include undiagnosed mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression, as well as chronic health problems that cause physical pain.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at WhiteSands

It’s completely understandable that people want to escape pain.  No one likes to suffer physical, mental, or emotional discomfort.  But to really alleviate pain and suffering it must be healed, not masked.  Attempts at self-medication give short-lived relief by numbing pain temporarily.  Once the alcohol and drugs wear off, the pain comes back, perhaps even worse.  We want you to know that effective therapies do exist that can truly relieve your anguish.

At WhiteSands, we provide specialized dual diagnosis treatment to help patients who are struggling with co-occurring substance abuse and other health conditions.  Dual diagnosis treatment helps resolve the underlying issues causing the addiction, vastly improving long term success rates.

Using drugs and alcohol to self medicate is more common than you might think, and it is vital to seek help before it is too late. If you think you or someone you care about may be using drugs and alcohol in an attempt to cope with something deeper, don’t hesitate to contact WhiteSands immediately. We can help you assess the situation and give you the tools you need to tackle your issues alleviating the need to turn to dangerous substances.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.