Self-Medication: The Addiction Cause No One Wants to Talk About

self medicating to deal with stress

How do you deal with life when it gets to be too much? Are you good at self care or do you turn to substances to help numb the feelings?

Self medicating to deal with stress is a prevalent issue that no one wants to address. While it’s very common, it’s not talked about, so it’s hard to know if it’s something you’re dealing with. 

If you feel that stress and self mediation is the origin of your addiction, or you may need help, you can read more below. We’ve detailed the signs and symptoms to help you determine if you or a loved one is dealing with self medication addiction.

Self Medication Hypothesis

Previously, many assumed that addiction came about because users were looking for pleasure, or the high they get when they’re using. That euphoric feeling is something to chase, and it’s the primary reason for using.

The self medicating hypothesis is that sometimes people are using drugs to relieve an uncomfortable state of mind or for self medication. Whether that’s a general feeling of dysphoria or clinical depression, addictive behavior sometimes also happens for this reason, rather than euphoria.

Self Medicating to Deal with Stress: A Common Problem

Stress affects over half of the population, according to the American Psychological Association. Whether people are stressed about the future of our country, work, or money, there are plenty of reasons that someone might be stressed and seek self medication. Often mental health issues occur at the same time that addiction occurs.

It can be hard to face your fears and emotions and want to escape, rather than dealing with those feelings. It’s also tough to diagnose this type of substance abuse sometimes, as it starts with less harmful substances.

Sometimes we self medicate with ice cream or other unhealthy food. While this leads to obesity, which is also prevalent in the U.S., it’s not always a habit that requires rehabilitation or medical intervention (although sometimes it does). It’s when the substance abuse becomes alcohol or drugs that family and friends start to notice and wonder if we need help from outside.

Alcoholism and Self Medication

Drinking alcohol for self medication may start out as a weekend habit, but when it becomes unhealthy, it’s time to get help. Here are some of the signs that you’re using alcohol or drugs to self medicate:

  • Increase of mental health issues
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Trouble at work
  • Mood changes
  • Your family or friends are worried about you
  • Substances make you feel worse
  • You always turn to drugs or alcohol when you feel bad
  • You can’t stop or it feels compulsory
  • You’re always thinking about where your next hit will come from

It can be hard to stop if you have become addicted because of self medication. If you feel like you may need help to stop, you may need to enter a treatment program. 

Dealing with Stress

Self medicating to deal with stress isn’t the best way to overcome mental health issues. Instead, dealing with stress or depression the healthy way is better for your body and for your family and relationships. You can apply for one of our treatment programs to help you or your loved one deal with self medication.