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If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

When we use the term self-medicating, we’re referring to our dependence on behaviors and substances other than medication to manage our mental, emotional or physical pain. We might use alcohol or marijuana to self-medicate our depression and anxiety, for example. We might use the escape of gambling or sex to numb ourselves from our difficult feelings. Self-medicating is problematic because we’re usually not addressing the root causes of our illnesses. We’re masking the pain, distracting ourselves from it, and doing everything we can to avoid it. Suppression of any kind usually makes our issues worse. Whatever we don’t face will continue to haunt us until we’ve learned the lessons it was sent to teach us. The ways in which we self-medicate act as layers that get added onto our issues, compounding and exacerbating the existing issues and creating new ones to have to heal from. Our accumulated pain can be overwhelming and burdensome, and we will try to cope using our addictions. This causes vicious cycles of dependence, and of creating unhealthy coping mechanisms for our pain.

Self-medicating from our illnesses usually means we’re not getting the proper treatment for them. We’re often never diagnosed, and we rarely will seek professional help. We’re resistant to the idea of reaching out for help. We often won’t consider therapy, medication or alternative practices to help ourselves heal. Our issues continue to fester, worsening our mental health issues such as our depression, anxiety, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. When these go unaddressed, they can easily contribute to breakdowns in our overall health, and to what we associate with hitting rock bottom.

When we don’t address our issues head on, we often will escape into our addictions and relationships to distract ourselves from the healing work we know we need to do. Once we do that work, we often will find ourselves no longer needing our self-medicating drug of choice. We’re better able to manage our emotions, process our thoughts and handle our daily lives and relationships. We’re better equipped to make healthy choices for ourselves. While we were self-medicating, we were in a fog. We often weren’t thinking clearly. We were too high, and in too much resistance to our emotional pain, to work through our issues. We didn’t yet have the self-awareness, or the courage, to realize that we were fearfully avoiding our pain and using our drugs of choice to help us try to forget it.

Your new life starts today. Let Riverside Recovery be your support system as you do the work to heal. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on our addiction recovery. treatment programs.