The Dangers of Self-Medicating

May 4, 2022 | College Health, Primary Care

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Mental health problems are common in the U.S., but thankfully, mental health awareness is on the rise. 52.9 million adults in America lives with a mental illness according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Treating mental illness can be difficult, especially without the help of a mental health professional. 

People who have mental health problems may begin abusing alcohol or drugs as a form of self-medication to help them deal with the stresses of daily life according to

Some of the most common mental health problems that are associated with self-medication include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and personality disorders (such as antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder).

What Are the Risks of Self-Medication?

One of the biggest risks of self-medication is worsening the symptoms of a mental illness states Taking any substance on your own while not under the care and supervision of a doctor also carries risks to your overall health.

In addition to putting yourself at risk for developing certain physical health problems, including cancer, self-medication can also make you dependent on the substance you use. Over time, you may need to use more to achieve the same effect, and you may become addicted.

When you’re not able to use the substance you self-medicate with, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. These can be highly debilitating and unpleasant, and in the cases of some substances (including alcohol), they can even be fatal. 

What Are the Alternatives to Self-Medication?

While self medicating can be beneficial to some people, it’s not always effective, and some people require more intensive approaches to improving their mental health.

To break the cycle of self-medication, many people need to address the root cause of it. Mental and behavioral health specialists can help people who self-medicate work through the issues that contribute to their abuse of alcohol and drugs, especially when they utilize a treatment program that combines a holistic and comprehensive approach. 

Depending on the severity of their mental health problems, people who self-medicate can benefit from either outpatient services and or more intensive in-patient services.

Seek Mental Health Treatment

The prospect of breaking a reliance on drugs and alcohol to get through the day can be daunting without the help of experienced healthcare providers. Many people with mental illnesses become reliant on drugs and alcohol simply to get through the day, and the prospect of giving them up can be daunting without the help of experienced healthcare providers.

We offer a wide range of mental health and addiction services for adolescents, adults, and seniors, including both inpatient and outpatient therapies. 

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