You may be using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate an underlying mental illness. Some people have a “dual diagnosis” of mental illness and addiction; often, addiction begins as a means to self-medicate. You may have struggled with anxiety and found that alcohol “calms your nerves.” You might have had difficulty staying awake during the day due to underlying depression and used a stimulant drug to keep going. At some point, the additional substance “worked” for you. You were able to get through the day or feel more focused and relaxed. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol only mask the real issues, and then they can create even more.

When using alcohol or drugs to manage mental illness symptoms, you might develop a tolerance for the substances. When your tolerance increases, your substance use can increase. Three beers no longer have the same impact, so you drink five. “Uppers” no longer have the same effect, and you need more. Self-medicating can become a downward spiral into dependence and substance abuse. These behaviors become problematic, and your solution is now another problem. The substance you used negatively affects your health. Now, you have additional issues and no healthy coping skills. When your life falls apart, you might turn back to self-medicating as a way of fixing yourself. 

Recovery from addiction might require you to develop healthy coping skills for your underlying issues. When you treat the cause of the problem at the source, you can get away from the cycle of self-medication and discover effective means of thriving. 

You might be using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate an underlying mental health disorder. When you get into the cycle of self-medicating, you might merely provide temporary relief for more significant concerns. Self-medicating might lead to an addiction. Your tolerance might increase and you might need more and more of your preferred substance for the same effect. Addiction might be rooted in other issues and without dealing with underlying concerns, you might not learn healthy means of coping with your mental illness. While self-medicating, you might be masking the real issues and neglect getting the help that you need. You can heal from a dual diagnosis of mental health and addiction. Treatment centers are here for you to deal with both of these issues. Alta Loma Transformational Services is here to help you with both addiction and mental illness. Call us today at (866) 457-3843 for more information on dual diagnosis treatment.