Research on substance use disorders and mental health disorders depicts strong evidence for consistent links between the two. Approximately half of Americans who have substance use disorders also have mental health disorders and vice-versa. While it cannot be said that one causes the other, the two are complexly intertwined. When these disorders coincide, it is referred to as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. It is essential to find a dual diagnosis treatment center that can treat both conditions simultaneously when seeking treatment.
Dual diagnosis treatment first focuses on detoxing and addressing acute substance use disorder symptoms. It is necessary to be free from the haze of drugs and alcohol to treat mental health concerns effectively. To learn how you can benefit from dual diagnosis treatment, contact Westwind Recovery® at 855.340.8832.
Signs You Are Self-Medicating with Drugs and Alcohol
The self-medication hypothesis began in the 1980s and proposes that substance abuse develops as a coping mechanism for those without healthy coping skills. The notion is that people turn to drug and alcohol use, not for their euphoric effects but rather to relieve physical or psychological discomfort. Self-medication usually refers to substance use but can also involve behavioral addictions such as gambling or sex.
Typical reasons people turn to self-medication are to alleviate negative thoughts and feelings associated with or stemming from:
- Depression, anxiety, and stress
- Isolation, loneliness, and feelings of abandonment
- PTSD symptoms
- Chronic pain or chronic illness
- Sleep disorders
- Eating disorders
It is not uncommon for people to be unaware that they are self-medicating, especially when they are doing so with behavioral addictions like over-exercising, shopping, or over-eating. To help determine if you are self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, consider these signs:
- You drink or use drugs when you feel angry, anxious, depressed, stressed, or uncomfortable.
- When you cannot use drugs or alcohol, you feel panic, irritability, restlessness, and cravings.
- Your mood and mental and physical well-being worsen when you drink or use drugs.
- The people in your life are concerned about your drinking or drug use.
- Your problems are only getting worse.
If you can identify with any of these signs, it might be time to seek professional help from a dual diagnosis treatment center like the one at Westwind Recovery®.
What Are the Dangers of Self-Medicating?
Relying on drugs and alcohol to cope with complicated feelings or physical and psychological pain is often the first step on the path to addiction. While drinking or drug use may provide temporary relief, it is just that: temporary. Substance abuse not only does not solve your problems, but it also leads to more problems. Self-medicating and substance abuse become part of a cycle that quickly traps you.
Along with the risk of addiction, self-medicating with drugs and alcohol poses other dangers, including:
- Potential adverse reactions
- Delays to appropriate medical advice and proper treatment
- Worsening of the condition if the person is self-medicating
- Masking symptoms of severe conditions
- Increased risk for self-harm and risk-taking behaviors
- Risk of overdose and death
Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol can also create changes in brain functioning that can exacerbate a pre-existing mental health disorder or facilitate the emergence of a new one.
Call Westwind Recovery® for Dual Diagnosis Treatment
When individuals are self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to relieve the symptoms of undiagnosed mental health disorders, they put themselves at significant risk for developing addiction and worsening mental health. It can be nearly impossible to determine which came first, the substance use disorder or the mental health disorder. Each condition exacerbates the other, creating a cycle that requires professional dual diagnosis treatment to break.
Westwind Recovery® provides top-rated dual diagnosis treatment in our Los Angles recovery center. Our experienced team understands the intricate combination of unique genetic, biological, and environmental factors that require clients to receive highly individualized dual diagnosis treatment customized to their needs and circumstances. When you are ready to break the cycle of self-medicating and addiction, call us at [Driect].
Dr. Deena is the Chief Clinical Officer of Westwind Recovery®, an award-winning outpatient treatment center in Los Angeles where she oversees the clinical and administrative program and treatment methods. Dr. Deena is a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker since 1993. LCSW #20628. Originally from the East Coast, Dr. Deena has worked running treatment centers, worked as a therapist in psychiatric hospitals as well as school settings and currently has a thriving private practice in the LA area. Dr. Deena has appeared regularly on the Dr. Phil Show as an expert since 2003. She has also been featured on many other TV shows, podcasts and has contributed to written publications as well as podcasts.