Self-medicating involves using available medications or drinking alcohol to treat medical and mental health conditions that a person diagnosed for themselves without a doctor’s help. Most people do some type of self-medicating. When you have a cold and take an over-the-counter cold remedy, or when you hurt yourself and take a pain reliever to help, this is a form of self-medication.
For most people, taking over-the-counter medication is something they don’t think twice about. It’s a normal part of their daily lives. Yet, for some who are fighting addiction or someone who is fighting a more serious health or mental health condition, this practice becomes quite dangerous. In fact, self-diagnosis and self-medication is a leading cause of drug dependence and substance abuse, even from people who do not intend to start down that path.
Let the professionals at Blueprint Recovery Center give you the proper diagnosis that you deserve to address both addiction and mental health conditions.
Self Medication and an Incorrect Diagnosis
One of the reasons self-medicating is dangerous is the risk of incorrect diagnosis. Someone battling depression may find that they suffer from headaches or stomach aches because of their depression. Instead of addressing the depression with appropriate medication and therapy, they treat the pain from the co-occurring physical issue. They might feel a little better, so they never get help for the depression.
Unfortunately, over time it will require stronger medications to address the physical ailment, leading to substance abuse. Treating the depression directly with a doctor and therapist’s oversight will bring better results with less risk.
Failing to Treat Serious Diseases
Another risk of self-medicating is the risk of failing to spot and treat a serious disease. Medicating for pain, for instance, can mask something more serious that is going on. Someone with cancer may take over-the-counter pain medications or even controlled pain medications to hide their pain, rather than going to the doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment for their life-threatening disease. If a condition has gone on for over a couple of weeks, you are always safest getting a medical diagnosis and treatment to rule out a serious problem. Remember, without accurate treatment, your problem can, and likely will, get worse.
Increased Risk of Substance Abuse
Self-medication seems harmless at first, and it can make you feel better. Turning to drugs or alcohol to boost your mood or reduce your pain can bring temporary relief. In fact, this is sometimes recommended and normalized in popular culture. Taking a drink to take the edge off of a negative mood is something people consider normal.
However, this does not address the underlying condition, and the relief can be so pleasant that the habit quickly turns into a battle with substance abuse. Some drugs can make physical ailments and mental health conditions worse, even though they feel like they temporarily bring relief.
As an added problem, continued use of some substances can actually change the brain. This can make the battle with substance abuse even more difficult. For example, people who use marijuana to temper the effect of a mental health or mood disorder end up being at higher risk for developing psychosis early in life. While cannabis can help a mood feel better, it can lead to more serious problems down the road.
Stop Self-Medicating Today with Help from Blueprint Recovery Center
Medication can play a big role in treating both mental and physical health conditions, but self-medicating is a dangerous trend. If you are struggling with health issues or mental health needs, getting accurate treatment from a qualified health or mental health professional is essential.
Blueprint Recovery Center has many addiction treatment therapy options available to help with self-medicating, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy program
- Dialectical behavior therapy program
- Individual therapy program
- Group therapy program
- Family therapy program
- Trauma therapy program
Reach out to the Blueprint Recovery Center in Concord at 833.654.1004 to learn more about dual diagnosis treatment.