How to Stop Self-Medicating

How to Stop Self-Medicating

One example of self-medicating is drinking alcohol to manage anxiety

Self-medicating with a drug like LSD has become an all-too-common way for people to manage a mental health condition. The fact is, however, that such drug abuse can destroy both mental and physical health and further complicate an already challenging situation.1

What Does“Self-Medicating” Mean?

People self-medicate when they attempt to manage a mental health condition through self-administration of alcohol or other drugs. One example would be drinking alcohol to manage anxiety, since alcohol is a depressant. Similarly, an individual could begin taking amphetamines to counteract severe depression.2

What’s So Wrong with Self-Medicating?

First off, choosing to self-medicate ignores the underlying problem; it further complicates matters,adding a new disorder to the existing one. While a person may be able to mask his symptoms by self-medicating, the original mental health condition is not being remedied or even addressed.

Once the LSD or other drug wears off, the individual once again becomes anxious, depressed or whatever drew him to self-medicate. Indeed, that person may well find that, in the post-medication state, he feels even less adequate to deal with the stressors of his life since he is now dependent on a substance in order to function normally.

So, as you can see, self-medicating simply makes matters worse. It’s a short-term solution that only attempts to mask a problem. Nothing is fixed. Nothing is resolved. Nothing is remedied. Not only that, but self-medicating muddles the situation, increases the challenges and blocks opportunity for healing.3

Breaking the Power of Self-Medicating

Recovery from drug addiction is challenging enough without adding an underlying mental disorder to the equation. So what can be done? How can healing begin?

To get started down the path of recovery, here are a few steps that can provide some guidance and support to individuals who find themselves stuck in a cycle of self-medicating a mental health condition:

  1. Take a mental health inventory of yourself – Assess whether your drug use is masking a mental health condition by asking yourself a few probing questions: Am I taking LSD or any other drug to avoid or escape something I dislike, fear or worry about? Do I feel a need for drugs to calm my emotions?
  2. Ask friends and familwhat they notice – Those closest to you will likely know if you are masking any deeper issues by taking drugs. For this to be productive, you must decide on the front end to be receptive to answers you might not want to hear. Be committed to viewing all feedback as helpful.
  3. Get a professional opinion – Schedule a consultation with a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist who can help you determine what’s really going on and guide you through the next steps to take.

If you are struggling with an addiction due to self-medication, you may feel confused and overwhelmed. Some days you may feel as though you are in a downward spiral of disappointment and self-destruction. Is freedom from all of the pain, guilt and pull toward drugs really possible?4

Yes, there is a way out. You don’t have to live the rest of your life with addiction and mental disorders. You are not alone. We can help you find your way out. We specialize in cases of co-occurring disorders. It’s called having a “dual diagnosis”. Our integrated, evidence-based approach is highly acclaimed.

When you call our 24/7 toll-free line, you will get a caring, nonjudgmental ear. Your concerns will get addressed, and your questions will get answered. Positive options to promote healing will be offered. Then the course to take is left up to you. Lean on someone you can trust. We care…one person at a time.


1“Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders”, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/substance-abuse/.

2 “Risk of Self-Medication Practices”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20615179 .

3 “Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Illnesses”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/comorbidity-addiction-other-mental-illnesses/why-do-drug-use-disorders-often-co-occur-other-men , (September 2010).

4“Self-Medication of Mental Health Problems: New Evidence from a National Survey”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361129/.