Self-medicating is a common occurrence among individuals suffering from mental and physical pain and it affects men and women of all ages. The term “self-medicating” is pretty straightforward and involves a person choosing for himself what medicines to take in order to alleviate symptoms of a mental or physical health condition with little or no knowledge of the substances’ effects.
Risks of Self-Medicating
Self-medicating can vary widely in the level of severity and danger to a person’s health. It can range from taking a minor, over the counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen tablet for a headache all the way to abusing dangerous narcotic substances like Rohypnol to alleviate the symptoms of a more severe mental or physical illness. There are countless potential risks to a person’s health that are involved with self-medicating, including the following:
- Accidental overdose
- Adverse effects from bad drug combinations
- Physical and psychological dependence
- Organ failure
- Rise of new mental or physical health conditions
There are many reasons why self-medicating is considered dangerous. A person may misdiagnose his alleged health condition, take too much of a substance, mix substances together that should not be mixed because they cause adverse effects, take a substance that should not be taken with certain pre-existing health conditions, or become addicted to a substance because he is unaware of what the proper doses should be. Some of the most common mental health problems that can lead to self-medicating include the following:
- Panic disorder
- Social phobia
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Bipolar disorder
Abusing prescription drugs like Rohypnol, which acts as a sedative and can relieve anxiety or panic, is a common form of self-medicating. Self-medicating typically leads to the development of an addiction, which can be detrimental to a person’s life. Fortunately, professional support can help a person to stop self-medicating while still experiencing relief from his symptoms without addictive substances. Consider the following when trying to stop the practice of self-medicating and find healing from dependence or addiction:
- Do not stop taking a substance altogether – While the substance will likely need to be discontinued altogether at some point, it can be potentially harmful or uncomfortable to quit cold turkey due to withdrawal symptoms if a dependence or addiction has developed.
- Consult a doctor – A doctor will likely be able to assess an addiction and offer referrals to professional treatment options.
- Consider a professional rehab program – If addiction is present it is essential to receive treatment from a professional rehab facility. Rehab can help you overcome the problem of self-medicating and introduce new and healthier ways of alleviating the symptoms of a mental health condition. Dual Diagnosis treatment may also be necessary for treating co-occurring disorders.
- Get support – Gaining a network of supportive friends, family members, co-workers and health professionals is essential to overcoming substance abuse and successfully living life in recovery.
Addiction and other mental health conditions can and are overcome by people every day with the help of professionals with specialized training and experience in the field of mental health and substance abuse.
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