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Signs You’re Self-Medicating To Deal With Stress


Signs You’re Self-Medicating to Deal With Stress

Stress is a regular part of life, although it is sometimes misunderstood. Whether it is a college student cramming for a test, a business professional struggling to meet a deadline, or a parent unable to sleep, it is not always pleasant, but it also has its place. Stress can motivate a person but may also escalate to a point where things feel unmanageable. Sadly, many people choose to address these feelings through drugs and alcohol. Banyan Treatment Center Massachusetts looks at signs that a person is self-medicating to deal with stress and why this is an issue.

Ways That People Self-Medicate

A person under a significant amount of pressure may use a variety of substances to relieve this.

These substances can include:

  • Prescription drugs – From stimulants used to treat ADHD to opioids and benzodiazepines for anxiety and even medications prescribed by a doctor - these all can be abused. This occurs when the patient takes more than is prescribed more often or mixes the drug with other substances.
  • Illicit drugs – Drugs like cocaine, heroin, and even marijuana are commonly used to manage symptoms of stress that a person may be experiencing. That latter substance, although ranging in legality depending on the state, can still be abused where the user’s professional, educational, and even the standing of some relationships can take a hit.
  • Alcohol – This is an extremely common route that a self-medicated person will take. Often considered a social activity and completely legal for anyone over the age of 21, the normalization of alcohol in our culture can explain the commonality of people who attempt to medicate themselves with a beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of liquor.
  • Nicotine - Many people require cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and, more recently, vapes to get them through their days. While they may temporarily help a person to focus or relax, they carry significant risks to a person’s physical health, contributing to the negative moods a person may be struggling with.

There are also several signs that a person has opted to self-medicate, such as:

  • Neglecting physical hygiene
  • Skipping meals
  • Isolation from loved ones
  • Secrecy regarding habits
  • Defensiveness about drug use
  • Inexplicable financial troubles
  • Falling behind at school or work

Someone who is exhibiting the symptoms listed above should do their best to be self-reflective on the habits they have developed. Even if a desired outcome, like performance enhancement, is achieved, using drugs and alcohol to deal with stress can easily snowball into something much more destructive.

What Are the Causes and Effects of Self-Medicating?

There are several unique scenarios that can result in a person self-medicating to deal with stress.

Common reasons for self-medicating include:

  • Covering up unpleasant emotions like fear, hopelessness, or stress.
  • Coping with symptoms of a mental health disorder, like anxiety and depression.
  • Burying past traumatic memories to forget them.
  • Pressure to stay on task at school or work, or a desire to enhance performance.

If allowed to continue, a person’s habits of self-medication can eventually escalate into an uncontrollable substance use disorder. When this occurs, it is crucial that the individual seek out Massachusetts addiction treatment at Banyan. Our treatment professionals are trained to help each patient reflect on the choices that brought them to this point and develop healthier coping mechanisms to apply moving forward. This is achieved through the many effective therapy programs offered at our rehab in Massachusetts.

For more information about the programs we offer to help those struggling with addiction recovery, call Banyan’s Wilmington rehab center today at 888-280-4763.

Related Reading

Substance Abuse in College Students

Is Stress Eating a Disorder?

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Signs You’re Self-Medicating To Deal With Stress
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