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Dangers of Self-Medication

Trauma can have a negative effect on some lifestyle choices. In order to relieve some of the symptoms of trauma related disorders, many individuals turn to drugs or alcohol in order to gain some relief.

Using substances to treat a condition or symptom that you’ve diagnosed on your own, without the assistance of a medical professional, is known as self-medicating. Many individuals living with mental health conditions related to trauma turn to self-medication instead of seeking appropriate mental and behavioral healthcare.

Self-medicating puts you at risk for more serious health problems like substance use disorder or addiction.

When self-treating co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety, with drugs or alcohol, the consequences can be extremely dangerous. In an effort to escape from, cope with, or tamp down the symptoms of a trauma related disorder, a person will sometimes turn to substances that might lower their anxiety levels, often using alcohol or marijuana.

Although self-medicating to deal with these types of disorder may seem to help you feel less distressed at first, over time serious problems will occur. Someone who is having issues with traumatic stress and substance abuse often has additional emotional or physical problems occurring.

People suffering from trauma-related disorders also may be suffering with anxiety disorders, mood disorders and certain behavioral disturbances, including addictive behaviors.

Having trauma in your background can also cause physical health issues to cause physical pain and chronic illnesses. This further leads to self-medicating to relieve the symptoms of stress related conditions such as heart disease or chronic pain with no clear diagnostic cause.

Some of the negative consequences of self-medicating to relieve trauma related disorder symptoms include:

  • Drug addiction
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Medical problems
  • Relationship issues
  • Increased anxiety

Self-medication is actually a common issue with individuals suffering from PTSD. According to the National Library of Medicine, about 20% of persons with PTSD have abused substances to help relieve their symptoms, with potentially dangerous consequences.

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