Do you know what the signs of self-medicating are? In these times of great anxiety and distress, many of us are turning to substances to try to change the way that we feel. More than one in four adults living with mental health issues also use substances to self-medicate.

The contents of this post are extracted from a helpful article called “How To Stop Self-Medicating” by Help Guide. Learn more about substance use, courtesy of our friends at Help Guide at 

What is self-medicating?

When you use alcohol or drugs in this way to manage symptoms of a mental health issue, it’s known as “self-medicating”. You may be aware that you have a mental health problem but don’t know any healthier ways to cope. Or your condition could be undiagnosed and you simply use alcohol or drugs to cope with a specific symptom or situation.

Drinking or using drugs to change your mood, face your fears, or deal with painful emotions can be signs. There are healthier ways than self-medication to cope with problems and improve how you feel. Mental health problems can sometimes lead to alcohol or drug use as a form of self-medication.
Self-medicating is a short-term solution.
While self-medicating may offer some relief in the short-term, over time it only exacerbates your problems. Whether you turn to alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription medications (or even food or cigarettes), regular self-medication can lead to addiction, a worsening of mood disorders, and increased health problems. It can also damage your relationships at home, work, and school.
Signs that you’re self-medicating:

To understand if you’re self-medicating, it’s necessary to examine your motives for drinking or taking drugs—as well as the impact it’s having on your life. For example, are you popping a pain pill because your back is hurting or because you’ve had a stressful day at work and you want to change how you feel? Are you having a drink to be sociable with friends or complement a meal—or are you trying to improve your mood or feel less anxious?


Dangers of self-medication:

Trying to self-medicate a mental health issue can create a myriad of problems beyond the risk of becoming addicted to your substance of choice. Self-medicating can also make symptoms worse, interact with prescription medications, trigger new mental health problems, delay or prevent you from seeking help.


Recovery is possible.

You are not powerless.

By better understanding the reasons why and when you self-medicate, you can find healthier and more effective ways of coping with your problems and improving your overall mood and well-being.

Call or text 988 to begin your recovery journey, where you will be connected with resources to support you.