How to Stop Self-Medicating

How to Stop Self-Medicating

People abuse drugs and alcohol for many reasons, but often to self-medicate a physical or mental health disorder. Such drug users believe drugs help them, but they often only masks symptoms while the underlying health issue gets worse. For example, 20 Vicodin tablets a day might ease the pain from a broken leg, but the leg will get worse without proper treatment. The following list are examples of self-medicating:

  • A person might consume cocaine, amphetamines or prescription stimulants to mask the lethargy of depression
  • Someone might shoot heroin or take opioids to numb chronic pain or the emotional agony of depression, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder
  • Alcohol, benzodiazepines and other depressants may relieve anxiety, mania or posttraumatic stress disorder

People might take the same drugs a doctor would prescribe for a problem, but illicit acquisition and unsupervised use of any drug can lead to serious consequences, including overdose and addiction. Whatever the scenario might be, self-medicating substance abuse needs to stop.

Substance Abuse and Health Disorders

Professional rehab is the best way to stop self-medicating problems and to address the underlying condition. Modern facilities provide integrated care, which offers the following benefits:

  • Professional treatment significantly improves recovery outcomes
  • Tapered detox to avoid serious side effects, like potentially lethal seizures
  • Screenings to identify mental health issues, which can lead to appropriate treatment plans
  • Rehab centers can treat acute and chronic pain issues with holistic therapies and non-narcotic treatments

The therapies that treat substance abuse and mental health disorders vary, but rehab centers commonly use the following modalities:

  • Behavioral therapies that improve dysfunctional thought patterns, beliefs and responses
  • Coping strategies that promote conflict resolution and anger/stress management
  • Motivational interviewing to help patients find personal reasons for change
  • Individual counseling to address unresolved trauma and unconscious conflicts

An untreated addiction or mental health disorder can lead to relapse for both problems, which is why rehab centers treat all co-occurring conditions together.

The Special Case of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana presents a particular challenge, because many people believe the plant is a safe way to self-medicate pain. In fact, various studies suggest the drug relieves symptoms of HIV/AIDS, cancer, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s and other diseases. However, people also claim several untested, unconfirmed and even unlikely benefits from the drug. Marijuana is a Schedule I substance, which limits clinical testing and conclusions, so many claims about the drug’s efficacy are simply unfounded. Furthermore, the people who prescribe marijuana are rarely doctors. Additionally, many of the medical benefits of marijuana are available through herbal supplements, which you would not take for a broken leg. Even if the drug initially relieves symptoms, it only masks the cause, which means the underlying health issue gets worse.

Professional Recovery Help

Whether you need help with addiction, mental health or both, our admissions coordinators are ready to take your call right now. They operate a toll-free, 24 hour helpline to provide information and recommendations; if you have health insurance, they can even check the policy for treatment benefits. Call now for instant, professional support.