According to a 2016 study published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, self-medication often occurs in place of seeking attention from a hospital – or primary service – care for a health issue. It’s not surprising that many people rely on over-the-counter medications to handle minor aches and pains, but this can easily become substance abuse if not taken seriously. Furthermore, many people turn to substances despite have mental health problems, which can further exacerbate symptoms. By understanding the reasons why many of us self-medicate, you can hopefully take precaution when using substances – or seek help if you believe you may be dependent on them. The following are common reasons why substances are used for self-medication:
- To mask symptoms of a mental illness. Anxiety, confusion, social awkwardness, difficulty managing relationships, and more can all be experienced with certain mental illnesses; for many people, these are very distressing and substances such as alcohol or other drugs seem to mitigate these effects.
- To help forget about our problems. Healthtalk.org states that whether personally or socially, substance use may seem to help a person forget about their personal concerns.
- To aid in helping us enjoy life. For many who are undergoing a lot of stress and/or depression, activities that used to be enjoyable may become dampened; substances have sometimes been known to help people enjoy these activities more by providing them with an influx of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is a “feel good” chemical.
- To use a quicker, cheaper alternative to hospital treatment. Lack of health insurance and location of hospital can both cause a person to want to use substances to resolve their health condition. At times this may work, but with others, a person could accidentally become dependent on them.
- To engage in behavior that we feel we “deserve”, often from depression. Sometimes our brain tells us that we are ‘worthless”, that we “don’t deserve good” in the world, and that we “destroy” everything in our path. With this type of thinking often comes a sense of feeling that we need to punish ourselves – sometimes through use of substances.
While a substance may seem to help us with immediate issues, they do not benefit us in the long run. In fact, they can make things worse because they add another problem to our list as well as they can exacerbate symptoms we are trying to suppress.
Transform your life, inside and out as you find freedom from addiction. At Tree House Recovery in Orange County, California, we’re helping men create the sustainable changes necessary to build a sustainable recovery. Call us today for information: (855) 202-2138