Am I Self-Medicating?

As mental illness mingles with substance abuse, some of us are faced with the question of why we use. While many people abuse drugs as a mode of getting high, others let emotion dictate their lives, not taking into consideration that they have control in their mode of drug abuse.

Their mainframe for using is not to necessarily maintain the physicality of disease, nor promote an endorphinergic high, rather medicate in an effort to numb or placate emotion.

Excusing Your Substance Use

Often times, we—acting as our own doctors—accentuate a minor ailment, such as a backache or a migraine, then justify taking a pill or having a drink to ease the pain that may not even exist. Excuses such as these can expand into denials that we, ourselves, indulge in.

When dealing with trauma or anxiety, we go so far as to accept our own reasoning and persist into a daily activity that may evolve into addiction, but is, nevertheless, abuse. While these excuses and denials relate directly to physical trauma, it is a psychological trauma that is the predominant cause of self-medication that physical ailments can usually be drawn back to.

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Pain: Is It Physical Or Emotional?

Self-medication can take place with a variety of drugs, including alcohol and common painkillers like Percocet or Darvocet, so determining if you are self-medicating may not always be so simple.

However, being truthful with oneself and having a healthy inner debate can make it easier to decipher why we take or use a certain substance. Answering yes to even one of the following questions could point toward self-medication and a need for professional help:

  • Is the physical pain that you experience equal to the prescribed dosage for your injury/ailment? Is it possible that you just assume your pain still exists?
  • Do you take someone else’s prescription?
  • Do you drink alcohol while alone? Do you drink after a stressful moment/day?
  • Do you find that taking something to go to sleep is a better solution than staying awake and experiencing emotional distress?
  • Are you better able to get through the day after drinking or taking a drug/medication? Do you often convince yourself that taking something now will loosen you up and stop any possible, approaching anxiety?
  • Do you drink or use before or during most social situations?
  • Does it ever seem like you need to take or drink more because what you were using just isn’t enough anymore?

Alleviate Pain And Get Help

Turning emotional distress into an incurable disease that requires the use of addictive substances for symptom relief is the root of self-medication. Being able to have a full agency of our decisions to self-medicate, we, therefore, can decide to NOT self-medicate; but discovering alternate coping strategies isn’t always easy.

When you can come to the conclusion that you are, in fact, abusing drugs—prescription or not—to alleviate grief, it is time to seek professional help. Contact for help in getting on a healthier road.

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