Five Reasons Self-Medicating with Alcohol and Drugs Doesn’t Work

The Consequences of Self-Medicating with Drugs and Alcohol

While using substances can bring temporary relief, the consequences of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol certainly outweigh the benefits.  For people in vulnerable places, such as those with untreated mental health conditions, self-medicating can quickly escalate into addiction. 

What is Self-Medicating?

Self-medicating is just what it sounds like, using drugs or alcohol to numb unpleasant emotions or perhaps pain from a chronic condition.  An important aspect of self-medication is that it is done without the recommendation of a medical professional and is not monitored for your safety.  Turning to drugs or alcohol can temporarily distract us from the heaviness of a mental health condition or pain but it is not a long-term solution. 

Why Do People Attempt to Self-Medicate?

People self-medicate for various reasons, but most commonly people are drawn to the calming effects alcohol and certain drugs have.  For some, the environment in which they were raised was chaotic and they witnessed those around them self-medicating so that is the only way they know to cope with their mental health.  This also speaks to how genetics play a part in the development of addiction and mental health.  Research has shown that several psychiatric disorders can run in families’ due to genetic variations, further increasing the risk for someone to choose self-medicating as opposed to traditional therapy and doctor-prescribed medications.  However, having access to affordable healthcare or insurance is, unfortunately, not a luxury that everyone can enjoy.  For some, self-medicating seems like they’re only option because they cannot afford to go to the doctor, do not have transportation to go to the doctor, or can’t afford medications they are prescribed. 

Mental Health Conditions People Often Try to Cope with Using Drugs and Alcohol

Common conditions that people attempt to use self-medication as a way to cope are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • OCD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality Disorders

The Source Addiction Treatment Center - Miami - Five Reasons Self-Medicating with Alcohol and Drugs Doesn’t Work

Why Self-Medicating with Drugs and Alcohol Only Make Things Worse in the Long Run

  • Self-medicating for psychiatric disorders can make symptoms worse, or cause the development of new symptoms.
  • Drug Interactions—drugs and alcohol can have dangerous interactions with other prescription drugs
  • Development of new mental health conditions—Opioids and alcohol have been shown to trigger depression, for example.
  • It can prevent you from getting real help—If you’re self-medicating it can cloud your judgment and prevent you from seeking treatment for addiction or your mental health. 
  • Risk of abuse or development of addiction—while using drugs or alcohol may alleviate symptoms temporarily, it can quickly escalate into dependence.

How to Cope with Mental Health Conditions without Drugs or Alcohol

The first step to coping with mental health conditions without the use of drugs or alcohol is realizing that this method is negatively impacting you.  In order to effectively treat mental health conditions, a combination of therapy and medication should be used.  This will allow you to learn healthy coping skills to utilize instead of turning to substances.  The Source Treatment Center in Ft. Lauderdale specializes in helping those with co-occurring conditions get back to a healthier, happier life.  Through individual and group therapy, our experienced clinicians will work with you to process trauma and get to the underlying causes of your addiction so that true healing can begin.  Whether you need inpatient or outpatient care, our caring and compassionate team has programs available to fit your unique needs and life situation.  For more information on how The Source can help you or a loved one, please give us a call at (800) 204-0418 or go online at