Self-medication



Untitled Document Self-medication is the abuse of alcohol and other drugs in an attempt to relieve problems such as depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, emotional pain or bipolar disorder (also called manic-depression). Self medication is a temporary fix, because it treats the symptoms of the problem, not the problem itself. When people use drugs other than those health care professionals prescribe for them, the underlying problem goes untreated and worsens. It can be said that self-medicating is short term gain, long term pain.


Alcohol is the most popular drug used for self-medication. It is readily available and socially acceptable. Because it is a depressant, alcohol brings out many of the symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. While providing some temporary relief, alcohol worsens depression and can get in the way of a person's ability to resolve their depression more effectively with professional help.


Marijuana is the second most common drug used for this purpose. It is used to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and insomnia. There is some evidence that marijuana may have antidepressant properties. Although the depressed person may feel some relief from their symptoms, it may not be a sign of better health if the person becomes apathetic, isolates from social contact, and loses motivation and productivity.

Other drugs used for depression and bipolar disorder are Methamphetamine and Cocaine. Using prescription pain killers, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills in ways other than prescribed are also used for temporarily relief from emotional pain and anxiety.


Self-medication often means that a person is not willing to consciously recognize that a mental health issue is the cause of their emotional distress. There is a perception of stigma about having any form of mood disorder. Self-medicating to gain temporary relief, may seem more acceptable to them than getting professional help, but this strategy can lead to drug abuse.


Once self medication has lead to substance abuse, ending the vicious cycle can be very challenging. Seeing the underlying problem and getting appropriate care for it, means having to give up the drugs that were used to self medicate the problem's symptoms. A person that has been self-medicating for a long time may find it difficult to cope with the symptoms that started the pattern in the first place. Giving up the quick fix for a long term solution might mean having to experience the symptoms of the emotional problem for a while in the process.


Focus on change can be difficult. Stages of change occur before appropriate treatment is sought, but once a person is ready, counseling can end the self-medication cycle.