What is Self-medicating?

Many people who end up suffering from addiction started out looking for something to alleviate the burdens of their psyches. Others started out attempting to treat some kind of physical ailment. But what is self-medicating?


To be brief, self-medicating is the act of attempting to relieve a condition by engaging in self-destructive behavior in the form of substance abuse. Ultimately, self-medicating leads to dependence. The addict finds him or herself in a world painted with the harsh brush strokes of an artist whose work isn’t true-to-life. This artificial construct of reality is held together by the glue of alcohol or a chemical substance, and the addict might not realize how out of touch with reality he or she is.

Here at Addiction Treatment Group, we’ve seen people who start out self-medicating end up in drug and alcohol treatment programs time and time again.

So, what do you need to know about this phenomenon? We’d like to take a moment to share how our experience has answered that very question.

1. Self-medicating often amplifies the troubles that addicts seek to escape. When someone is addicted, they spend their lives either being high or chasing a high. Addicts do this because they feel like they can escape or deal with certain troubles while under the influence of a chemical. However, whatever it is the addict is not addressing only looms larger because he or she is really avoiding something.

2. Self-medicating increases the risk of suicide. Substances are crutches, but addicts see them as tools for holding their lives together. If an addict loses that crutch, they are left with their original troubles as well as the terrifying fact that they have no means of coping. Unfortunately, the response in some cases is suicide.

3. Self-medicating often masks mental illness. Some addicts take drugs because they don’t feel like they “fit in.” For them, drug and alcohol addiction center make them less self-conscious and inhibited. Unbeknownst to these addicts, they are still mentally ill – they’re just high on top of it.

4. Self-medicating is a coping mechanism. People who can’t get the drugs they need to manage pain can find themselves addicted to pills or heroin they buy on the street. People who don’t receive proper care for anxiety disorders can find themselves addicted to a slew of substances that make them less anxious.

If you are self-medicating, we encourage you to seek help immediately. The same goes for those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Take a look around our site to find out how opioid addiction centers can get you started on the road to recovery.

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The struggle against addiction to any substance is never an easy battle, but you can overcome it with the right intervention service tailored to your needs.