For decades, there has been considerable research on the relationship between mental health disorders and substance abuse. An ongoing inquiry continues as to whether a mental health disorder causes substance abuse or vice versa, but there is full agreement that the two issues have a direct correlation.
What Is Self-Medicating?
According to the National Institutes of Health, self-medication is using medication to treat symptoms apart from a doctor’s instruction.
People who self-medicate issues often rationalize their behavior by thinking they are taking an active role in their own health. In other words, if a mental health disorder causes such discomfort that it interferes with daily life, then you may self-medicate that problem with drug abuse, which you will justify by thinking you need the drug to function.
Mental Health Disorders Often Involved in Self-Medicating
Many mental health disorders cause such pain that people seek temporary relief through alcohol and drug abuse. The following mental health disorders are often associated with self-medicating:
- Bipolar disorder
SchizophreniaIf people with mental health disorders self-medicate their pain, they often want to relieve emotional upheaval. Such people often abuse alcohol, marijuana and medications like amphetamines.
Risks of Self-Medicating
People who self-medicate pain are at risk for incorrectly diagnosing their ailment, which means they may use a variety of substances to find the one or several that provide relief. The greatest risk in this situation is that various substances can interfere with each other to cause harmful effects. In addition, such drug users are at risk for choosing incorrect dosages that lead to addiction and overdose.
Another risk of self-medicating is that you delay appropriate medical care, which delays the recovery you truly need.
How to Stop Self-Medicating
If certain symptoms lead you to believe that you have a mental health disorder, then seek a medical professional. Healthcare providers can ascertain whether you have a mental health disorder or not, and they can prescribe and monitor medication use to evaluate the causes of your disorder. In other words, doctors can find healthy ways to deal with your emotional problems. Some doctors may even suggest Dual Diagnosis treatment, which treats substance abuse and mental health disorders simultaneously. These programs are quite effective, because patients collaborate with treatment teams to customize the care they receive.
Get Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction
Self-medicating can complicate your healing, so call our toll-free helpline now to address your problems safely. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders.