According to an article on psychcentral.com investigating the influence of Depression on self-medication and addiction, “the term self-medicating simply means using a substance or engaging in a behavior to satisfy a physical or psychological need.” Often, the article elaborates, “self-medicating means relying heavily on legal or illicit substances.” Drugs and alcohol can become part of a self-medicating regimen, from a drink or a marijuana cigarette at the end of the day to drinks throughout the day followed by drugs at night and vice versa.
Self-medication can be problematic for many reasons. First of all, the problem is inherent in the title. Self medicating is not the same as receiving a professional diagnosis and prescription for treatment from a licensed and trained doctor. Second, self-medicating can lead to addiction. Though most of the population is not genetically predisposed to addiction, it is still possible to develop a chemical dependency on the drugs and alcohol being used for self-medicating. Already relying on mind altering substances for emotional regulation, someone who self-medicates is walking along a fine line which can be easily pushed toward the worse.
Self-Medication Can Prolong Seeking Help
Like treating a gunshot with a bandaid, self-medication can seem satisfactory because it looks like treatment. Within that wound there is still a bullet, risk of infection, and open bleeding. Self-medication only looks like it is helping treat the problem. Since it works to achieve the desired effect, which is usually not to feel, many do not feel they need professional help.
Self-Medication Can Prevent Tackling Underlying Issues
Like addiction, self-medicating works for a time. Neither preventative nor truly an effective symptomatic treatment, self-medicating will not sustain in truly treating the problem. Depression or another mental health disorder requires thorough and carefully executed psychological treatment to tackle prevailing underlying issues.
Self-Medication is Triggered
Looking at and investigating underlying issues for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders like depression can reveal triggers or cues which set of the desire to self-medicate. The cycle of relying upon chemical alteration is comfortable. If it works, why break it? However, the true liberation from suffering happens only be doing the work to understand these triggers and learn how to work through them or relieve them entirely.
Aurora Recovery Centre is a licensed and certified dual-diagnosis treatment program offering treatment for both substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. If you are concerned you or a loved one may be at risk for chemical dependency as a result of self-medicating, call Aurora today. 1-844-515-STOP.