Why We Self-Medicate

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

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According to News Week, about 42.5 million Americans experience mental illness, which ranges from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and more. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration noted in 2014 that more than half of those people are seeking treatment, but only 2.6 million of the 22.5 million Americans struggling with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction received treatment. Many people who do not seek treatment choose to self-medicate, and here’s why:

  1. We think we’re just helping ourselves feel relief. Dr. Tian Dayton, psychologist, author, and more, tells the Huffington Post that many people slip into addiction without realizing it – to calm nerves or gain “courage”, we believe we are just helping ourselves feel better in the moment. With this, a lot of us are unaware of the possibility that we may have a mental illness. Our self-medication can easily become dependency forming, in which we later find ourselves addicted.
  2. We want to be distracted. Dr. Marc Lewis, developmental neuroscientist and professor of developmental psychology, stated it simply: “At the very least, (addiction can) take you out of yourself…if we find something that relieves the gnawing sense of wrongness, we take it, we do it, and we do it again.”
  3. We do not have the coverage we need. Pre-med student and cofounder of PublicHealthLibrary.org Jennifer McGregor states that while many people have insurance, limited mental health coverage may cause someone to want to “deal with it” on their own.
  4. We are afraid due to stigma. Mayo Clinic confirms that stigma can cause us to believe we will never succeed, we will not get the help we need, we will experience fewer opportunities because of our mental illness, and we will not be understood by others. When we fear stigma, we do not seek treatment and try to “solve the problem” ourselves.

Although many of us hold symptoms linked to a mental illness, we choose to try and resolve our unpleasant feelings on our own, mainly because we don’t feel like anyone cares, or we feel overwhelmed with the idea of seeking out help, paying for it, and taking out time from our day. No matter our reason, we self-medicate in hopes that this will resolve whatever it is we are feeling deep down. Truthfully, though, true freedom comes when we seek help and receive validation from others, when we develop tools to work with what we have.




If you are ready to seek treatment, call us today at 855-978-3174. Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, client-centered mental health and addiction recovery center. We believe in integrative, holistic treatment, meaning that we will help you restore your mind, body, and spirit. Make the decision to finally seek help. You deserve this. It’s worth it.

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