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Does self-medication help?

May 1 2014 - By:

dual diagnosisWhen you suffer from a mental illness, it does not necessarily mean that you will have an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Just like if you are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, it does not necessarily mean that you have a mental illness. However, the two conditions, referred to as dual diagnosis when you are afflicted with both, are connected.

Self-medication is a common occurrence for those suffering from mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression. However, self-medicating with alcohol or drugs is never the answer. While at first it may relieve some of the mental illness symptoms, making the person feel like they are better, it often leads to addiction issues and actually can worsen the initial mental illness symptoms.

When a person is suffering from a mental illness, drinking heavily or using drugs can often interact with any medications the person is taking for their mental illness. When this happens, it can alter the effectiveness of the medications, or even cause harm to the person. Not only can an addiction to drugs and alcohol interact with medicine and worsen the illness symptoms, but also it can even bring on new symptoms of the mental illness.

In some cases, there are underlying risks for mental illness that can increase a person’s chances of developing such an illness. These types of risks include genetics, and other types of factors, such an environmental. When someone already has some of these underlying risks for developing a mental illness, having an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol could be the catalyst for developing the illness. Thus, another indication that self-medication with alcohol and/or drugs is not the answer when suffering from dual diagnosis.

Research has shown that nearly one-third of the people with mental illnesses also have addiction issues. Nearly one-third of all people addicted to alcohol and more than one-half of those addicted to drugs, are also dealing with mental illness. The two conditions are closely linked and drinking more alcohol or doing more drugs to mask any mental illness symptoms is not the answer.

When a person self-medicates through substance abuse to improve any mental illness, it usually results in a person not following through with any type of treatment plans in place for the illness. People are less likely to make it to medical appointments, less likely to take the necessary medications at the appropriate dosages and times, and less likely to get any needed medical care when it is necessary. Those with mental illnesses who also abuse alcohol and/or drugs are also more apt to demonstrate impulsive and violent behavior.

Another alarming fact is that those with mental illnesses, who also abuse alcohol and/or drugs, are more likely to attempt suicide. At the Affordable Rehab of Worcester, we understand the challenges ahead for those suffering from dual diagnosis. Self-medicating is never the answer. Let us help you understand your illness and find the right treatment for you. While at the same time, we will help you to achieve sobriety. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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