There are many reasons why people self-medicate. Often people turn to self-medication to relieve stress, anxiety, unresolved trauma, and depression. Teens, in particular, self-medicate for a variety of reasons, including attention-deficit disorder (ADD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and anxiety disorders. Additional reasons are attempting to treat chronic pain or illness and peer pressure. Ultimately, self-medication may be best addressed with drug addiction treatment.
At Venture Academy, we understand the risks of self-medication and provide the drug addiction treatment options to start your teen on the road to recovery. Reach out to learn more by calling 866.762.2211 or completing our online form.
What Is Self-Medication?
Self-medication is when drugs or alcohol are used to cope with problems. Often, alcohol or drugs are used to manage symptoms of a mental health issue. Concerningly, people that self-medicate can be aware that they have a problem but don’t know of a healthier way to cope.
Forms of Self-Medication
Self-medication comes in several different forms, such as:
- Alcohol – Alcohol tends to be the most common form of self-medication. This is because of its accessibility. What’s concerning is the fact that alcohol is a depressant and will make symptoms worse.
- Prescription drugs – Commonly, self-medication is done with opioid painkillers, ADHD medication, and anti-anxiety medication. Like alcohol, these prescriptions are easy to come by. The reasons why prescription drugs are used for self-medication are because they have a variety of effects. They can be used to numb pain, relax, increase focus or energy.
- Illegal drugs – Self-medication with illegal drugs is usually marijuana, cocaine, or amphetamines. These are used when someone is trying to manage uncomfortable emotions, situations, or memories.
- Food – Emotional eaters self-medicate with food. They turn to food to deal with a variety of things like stress, anxiety, or depression. Typically people that self-medicate with food crave foods high in sugar, calories, and unhealthy fat.
- Nicotine – Self-medicating with nicotine found in cigarettes and tobacco products helps some people focus on the short term. However, studies show that nicotine makes ADHD symptoms worse, and it becomes more challenging to quit smoking in the long run.
What Are the Signs of Self-Medicating?
If you suspect that your teen may be self-medicating, be on the lookout for some of the signs. Given that these signs involve things that a teen may not want their parents to know they’re doing, they may be challenging to recognize.
Signs of self-medicating include:
- Turning to alcohol or drugs when feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed
- Drugs or alcohol make you feel worse
- It takes more self-medication to feel better
- Problems are increasing
- They worry when they don’t have access to drugs or alcohol
- Friends and family are worried about them
Noticing any of the signs may cause concern that your teen is self-medicating.
What Are the Dangers of Self-Medication?
Studies show that self-medicating offers relief in the short term; however, the problems only worsen over time. Concerningly, there are a significant number of dangers related to self-medication.
Self-medicating a mental health issue exacerbates the issue. Sometimes, self-medicating for a mental health issue can cause new symptoms to arise. Concerningly, self-medicating can trigger new mental health problems. Examples of this are opioid, and alcohol use can trigger depression. Another example is that marijuana can cause psychosis.
Also, using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate can interact with other medications. This can either negate the effectiveness of prescribed medications or cause less than desirable side effects.
Help Your Teen Stop Self-Medicating at Venture Academy
If you suspect your teen is self-medicating, Venture Academy can help. We offer a drug and alcohol treatment program for teens. We support young people in developing and implementing strategies that last and improve their everyday functioning, and have an ongoing positive impact on the quality of their lives. For more information on how we can help, please call 866.762.2211 or complete our online form today.