People struggle with substance use for a variety of reasons- for some, it’s trauma or inadequate coping mechanisms, for others, it’s how they deal with a psychiatric disorder. According to the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI), 37 percent of people living with alcoholism and 53 percent of those addicted to other drugs also live with mental illness. Addiction can also lead to some forms of mental illness while masking the symptoms of others, making difficult to treat either disorder effectively.
In truth, people who self-medicate are not actually helping themselves. At first, the drink or high might offer a short-lived respite from psychiatric symptoms but the high is always temporary. As you progress in your addiction, the drug’s effect lessens, pushing you to use more and more. At the same time, your mental illness deepens. Alcohol and drugs contribute to anxiety or depression, thusly making it impossible to treat one illness without addressing the other.
The Thin Line Between Use and Abuse
One of the signs that you or someone you love might be self-medicating is rapidly changing social activity- both mental illness and addiction are isolating disorders. If you are experiencing anxiety, separating yourself from the world might be a coping mechanism. Drugs and/or alcohol might make it easier in the beginning to leave the house but in the long run, the anxiety will return, often compounded with guilt, shame or self-disgust.
Self-medicating makes it hard to successfully go to work or go to school, which is more impactful than just social consequences. Both mental illness and addiction alter the way the brain works and at a certain point in active addiction, you might find yourself losing the ability to concentrate or comprehend the instructions of a task.
Addiction and mental illness erode your ability to handle emotions, either positive or negative. You might find yourself becoming manic, which is an exaggerated sense of wellbeing, confidence, and energy or you might slip into a dangerous depression. Either of these can lead to poor decision making. Addiction can contribute to violence against yourself or others, as the brain loses its ability to reason through a problem and to control impulses. You might find yourself becoming more easily angered and less likely to cope with it in an adaptive manner. This, when combined with hopelessness, can lead to self-harm or suicidal behavior- a staggering 90% of people who commit suicide suffer from addiction and/or mental illness.
If you are using drugs and/or alcohol to cope with depression, anxiety, or trauma, there is hope. Fort Worth Recovery can help you. We work with you, with your family and referring professionals to help you achieve lasting recovery. We help you address the core causes of your addiction through a variety of techniques, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. A healthy life is possible and you’re worth saving. Call us at 817 382 2894 or contact us online today.