Depression: How Self-Medication Leads To Substance Use Disorder

Depression: How Self-Medication Leads To Substance Use Disorder

Depression: How Self-Medication Leads To Substance Use Disorder

Northstar Recovery Center

PHP and IOP Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts

According to the World Health Organization, there are roughly 280 million people that suffer from depression around the world. This is a mood disorder that can result from a complex stew of psychological, social, and biological factors. Sometimes, individuals with depression will choose to self-medicate rather than receive treatment for their depression.

Self-medication refers to using drugs or alcohol to help cope with the symptoms of a disease or disorder. In the case of depression, an individual might drink or do drugs in order to temporarily escape their feelings of sadness and emptiness.

While these drugs might offer brief relief, in the long run, they can make mood disorders like depression worse. Using drugs and alcohol can also result in dependence or addiction, which can be very damaging to both your mental and physical health in addition to your personal and professional life.

Are you wondering what you need to know about self-medication and depression? Let’s take a look.

 

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by feelings of sadness, emptiness, and irritability. It also comes along with a loss of interest in activities that one once loved. While it’s normal for everyone to feel this way every once in a while, depressive episodes last for at least two weeks at a time.

Depression can also bring about other symptoms, including:

  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Poor concentration
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Feeling low-energy
  • Thoughts about death or suicide

While depressed people are by no means inherently addicts or vice versa, this mood disorder commonly co-occurs with drug and alcohol addiction.

What Does It Mean to Self-Medicate?

If a person has depression or another health condition and uses drugs or alcohol to help manage the symptoms, this is known as self-medicating. There are two primary reasons why people tend to self-medicate:

  • Substances can appear to help make the symptoms of a mental health disorder or illness more manageable in the moment, allowing for temporary relief
  • Many individuals who have trouble with drug and alcohol abuse don’t know how else to cope with their symptoms

Mood and anxiety disorders are among some of the mental illnesses that lead people to self-medicate. An individual doesn’t need a formal diagnosis in order to self-medicate. People can turn to drugs and alcohol during difficult life events in a way that also qualifies as self-medicating.

According to one study, grief results in increased drug and alcohol use. People who have experienced trauma or who have been in an abusive relationship are at an increased risk of using drugs or alcohol to deal with their difficult situation.

The Dangers of Self-Medicating

Self-medication can become a slippery slope for many individuals. While using drugs or alcohol might temporarily reduce unpleasant symptoms of depression, the long-term consequences can be devastating. Certain drugs, such as cannabis, might actually worsen symptoms of depression while also causing other negative side effects in both your health and your life.

When you don’t get proper treatment for your depression, the feelings that you have could intensify and result in danger to yourself or others.

If you choose to self-medicate instead of seeking treatment, you are facing a number of risks, including:

  • Self-diagnosing yourself incorrectly
  • Not receiving appropriate advice and treatment right away
  • Drugs interacting in a dangerous way
  • The risk of abuse and dependence
  • The worsening of your depressive symptoms
  • Potential adverse reactions
  • The masking of serious disorders and diseases

Even if you believe you are self-medicating in a tempered and controlled way, things can quickly spiral out of control.

 

Common Drugs That Are Used to Self-Medicate for Depression

When people don’t know how to cope with their troubled feelings or life situation, they can turn to self-medication. Depending on the person and their circumstance, there are a number of common drugs that are used for this purpose.

Alcohol

Alcohol can temporarily help to lower anxiety, decrease inhibitions, and increase happiness. For this reason in addition to its wide availability makes it a common substance that is used to self-medicate.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers that are prescribed for a number of conditions, including anxiety, muscle relaxation, alcohol withdrawal, and insomnia. You might recognize the names Xanyx and Valium as common types of this medication. Benzo abuse is, unfortunately, more common than you might assume, and this type of drug is highly addictive.

Opioids

Opioids like prescription painkillers and heroin are also used by some people to self-medicate for depression. These drugs act on the central nervous system and can temporarily:

  • Reduce tension
  • Blunt stress and anxiety
  • Increase relaxation

However, opioids are highly addictive. Using them comes along with a number of potentially devastating consequences.

What Are the Treatment Options?

If you are seeking treatment for both depression and addiction, you will want to find treatment centers that focus on co-occurring disorders. This way, you can ensure that you receive treatment for both your mood disorder and your substance abuse problem. It’s important to address both issues, as otherwise, you can end up falling into the same cycles when you’ve finished treatment.

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) is a type of addiction treatment where you have a number of treatment sessions every week but don’t live at the hospital. Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) require less of a time commitment meaning that patients can still engage in their daily life more easily.

Is It Time for You to Receive the Treatment You Need for Depression?

Self-medication for depression is not a healthy long-term option for anyone. If self-medication has left you with a dependence or addiction to substances, there is help for you!

At Northstar Recovery Center, we offer addiction treatment programs in Southborough, MA. We offer partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs, including evening IOP and virtual IOP.

Is it time for you to get your life back on track? If so, contact us today!

WHO WE ARE

Northstar Recovery Center in Southborough, MA is made up of a team of experienced, dedicated, and compassionate addiction treatment professionals. We want to see our community heal from the effects of the opioid epidemic, alcohol addiction, and other substance use disorders.

Partial Hospitalization Program in Southborough, MA

Our partial hospitalization program in Southborough, Massachusetts is the highest level of care we offer. This addiction treatment option includes clinical care and behavioral therapies. During the early days of recovery from addiction, it’s essential to have support for both the physical and emotional challenges you might face. Our team at Northstar Recovery Center in Massachusetts will help you build a strong foundation for lifelong recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Typically, clients come to our addiction treatment center each weekday for several hours of counseling sessions and other interventions as needed.

Intensive Outpatient Program in Southborough, MA

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) in Southborough, MA does not require 24/7 residency at a facility, but it demands more of your time than a regular outpatient program. It is ideal for those who need a higher level of care but are okay being at home. This way the individual can still live their life while getting counseling and support that is still needed in early recovery from substance use disorder.

Individual, Group, and Family Counseling in Massachusetts

Addiction thrives in isolation, which is why group counseling sessions are a foundational part of our addiction treatment plans. In group sessions, you’ll gain perspective on your struggles with substance abuse and can connect with others who understand your experiences. Family counseling can help your loved ones understand the disease of addiction, navigate conflict, and build healthier relationships. In individual counseling sessions, you’ll be able to work through personal issues like past trauma with the help of an experienced therapist.

Contact Northstar Recovery Center

Let us guide you on your journey to recovery from addiction. Connect with our team today.

Call Us Now

Anxiety: How Self-Medication Leads to Substance Use Disorder

Anxiety: How Self-Medication Leads to Substance Use Disorder

Anxiety: How Self-Medication Leads to Substance Use Disorder

Northstar Recovery Center

PHP and IOP Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts

It is completely natural to feel anxious on occasion. If you are starting a new job, taking a test, or facing an important decision, there’s a good chance you feel some anxiety. However, if you are constantly weighed down by anxiety, you might suffer from an anxiety disorder.

There are a number of healthy ways to deal with anxiety, including seeking proper medical care. However, some people don’t know how to cope with the difficult feelings and emotions they are faced with. This can lead them to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

How can self-medicating lead to substance abuse?

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

What Is Anxiety?

Everyone experiences anxiety sometimes and anxiety is actually your body’s natural response to feelings of stress. However, extreme feelings of anxiety that interfere with your life and last longer than six months are often defined as having an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders occur when a person feels anxiety in an intense and even debilitating way. There are a number of different disorders that are classified as anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Anxiety: How Self-Medication Leads to Substance Use Disorder | PHP and IOP substance abuse treatment in MA | Northstar Recovery Center in Southborough, MA

Some of the symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

 

  • Irritability
  • Anticipating the worst
  • Feelings of apprehension
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Twitches or tremors
  • Diarrhea or frequent urination

If anxiety is making it difficult for you to function in your everyday life, it’s important to seek help. There are a number of treatment options for anxiety including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

There are a number of healthy coping mechanisms for anxiety that you can use if you are faced with anxious feelings. These include getting enough sleep, staying physically active, eating healthy foods, and practicing breathing techniques.

What Is Self-Medication?

Alcohol and substances change the way that people feel, and many people will turn to drinking alcohol or drugs in order to cope with anxiety. While doing so might temporarily bring relief, it can lead to addiction and cause negative mental and physical health problems.

If you are trying to manage symptoms of anxiety or other mental health issues with drugs and alcohol, it’s known as self-medicating. This can end up exacerbating the problems that you were initially trying to cope with.

How Does Self-Medication Lead to Substance Abuse?

There have been studies that suggest that people with anxiety disorders are more likely to use alcohol or substances. People who suffer from anxiety often try to find relief from overwhelming feelings. In some cases, they might turn to alcohol and/or drugs.

While these might bring temporary relief, using substances usually always comes with a crash of some sort and a return to reality. This can lead people to start using their substance of choice more and more in order to escape the negative emotions and feelings. Some substances also have accompanying drug withdrawals that can range from extremely uncomfortable to life-threatening.

On top of that, many substances, including alcohol, are addictive. People can grow to become psychologically and physically dependent on the substances they use. Even if they want to stop taking drugs or drinking, they are compelled to continue use because of this dependence.

What Drugs Do People Use to Self-Medicate for Anxiety?

Different individuals might focus on different drugs when it comes to self-medication for anxiety. Let’s take a look at some of the more common choices and why people might use these to reduce their anxiety symptoms.

Alcohol

Perhaps the most common way that people self-medicate is with alcohol. Alcohol is widely available and much more socially acceptable than other drugs. While alcohol is a depressant and therefore can worsen symptoms of anxiety, for a brief period of time it can help to relax feelings of stress and anxiety.

Prescription Drugs

Individuals might also use prescription drugs in order to self-medicate their anxiety. These might be obtained legally with a prescription or illegally.

Anxiety: How Self-Medication Leads to Substance Use Disorder | PHP and IOP substance abuse treatment in MA | Northstar Recovery Center in Southborough, MAOne of the most widely prescribed medications for anxiety is benzodiazepines. While they can be effective for reducing anxiety symptoms, they are also quite addictive. The causes of benzo abuse are similar to those of opioids, cannabis, and GHB addiction.

Common benzos include Valium and Xanax. Individuals might also take opioid pain killers or other prescription drugs in order to self-medicate for their anxiety.

Recreational Drugs

People also use recreational drugs as a form of self-medication. For anxiety, a more common recreational drug is cannabis. While this drug has become more socially acceptable as the legal status has changed in a number of states, dependence on cannabis is not something to be taken lightly.

If you have developed an addiction to drugs, it’s important to know that there is help for you. You can learn about the benefits of a 12-step addiction program here.

Is It Time for You to Get the Help You Need?

Self-medicating for anxiety isn’t a long-term solution. In fact, it can exacerbate mental health conditions and come with a number of other serious consequences. If you are suffering from feelings of anxiety, the best course of action is to seek proper treatment.

However, if you have already gone down the road of self-medication, you will also need to seek treatment for your substance use. At Northstar Recovery Center, we aim to be a guiding light on your journey to recovery. Offering both a PHP program in MA and IOP programs in MA, we can help you find the recovery program you need to get your life back on track.

Is it time for you to break free from your addiction? If so, contact us today!

WHO WE ARE

Northstar Recovery Center in Southborough, MA is made up of a team of experienced, dedicated, and compassionate addiction treatment professionals. We want to see our community heal from the effects of the opioid epidemic, alcohol addiction, and other substance use disorders.

Partial Hospitalization Program in Southborough, MA

Our partial hospitalization program in Southborough, Massachusetts is the highest level of care we offer. This addiction treatment option includes clinical care and behavioral therapies. During the early days of recovery from addiction, it’s essential to have support for both the physical and emotional challenges you might face. Our team at Northstar Recovery Center in Massachusetts will help you build a strong foundation for lifelong recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Typically, clients come to our addiction treatment center each weekday for several hours of counseling sessions and other interventions as needed.

Intensive Outpatient Program in Southborough, MA

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) in Southborough, MA does not require 24/7 residency at a facility, but it demands more of your time than a regular outpatient program. It is ideal for those who need a higher level of care but are okay being at home. This way the individual can still live their life while getting counseling and support that is still needed in early recovery from substance use disorder.

Individual, Group, and Family Counseling in Massachusetts

Addiction thrives in isolation, which is why group counseling sessions are a foundational part of our addiction treatment plans. In group sessions, you’ll gain perspective on your struggles with substance abuse and can connect with others who understand your experiences. Family counseling can help your loved ones understand the disease of addiction, navigate conflict, and build healthier relationships. In individual counseling sessions, you’ll be able to work through personal issues like past trauma with the help of an experienced therapist.

Contact Northstar Recovery Center

Let us guide you on your journey to recovery from addiction. Connect with our team today.

Call Us Now

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