Many people have mental health issues and don’t even know it because they haven’t been professionally diagnosed with them. This often leads to them attempting to self-medicate to try to treat the symptoms on their own. Unfortunately, self-medication often leads to drug addiction, which can in turn lead to death. The following guide walks you through a few of the mental health conditions that are commonly treated through self-medicating.

Stress from Anxiety

Anxiety can cause you to feel very overwhelmed by different forms of stress. It can make it difficult to do daily tasks and for some can be debilitating. Many people turn to alcohol, marijuana or anti-depressants such as Xanax to treat their anxiety on their own. The alcohol and drugs calm their senses, but they can often bring about adverse side effects. Alcohol impairs your judgment which can lead to you doing things that you wouldn’t normally do. Xanax can cause insomnia or drowsiness, memory issues and distort your coordination. This can make doing daily tasks more difficult and dangerous.

Anorexia and Bulimia

People who don’t suffer from anorexia or bulimia don’t understand how difficult the illnesses are to overcome. The constant judgment in your own head can be overwhelming and can make eating seem daunting and debilitating. Unfortunately, those that suffer from an eating disorder will often turn to drugs to make losing weight or maintaining their weight easier. They will use laxatives or appetite suppressors to keep their weight in check.

Some will use cocaine or even methamphetamines to try to lose weight because they cause such a boost in energy and decrease the appetite. When someone takes diuretics to lose weight, it puts a lot of stress on their body. It can cause damage to their liver and their kidneys while keeping them from gaining weight. Using cocaine or meth can cause hallucinations, nausea, insomnia, and paranoia.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t always like what you see on television. Many people assume those suffering from OCD simply don’t like things being dirty or can’t stand the textures of certain foods. That isn’t the case at all. OCD causes people to have irrational fears about certain things. It can cause them to have to do certain routines on a daily basis in order to feel like they have some sort of control over their life. It can include turning on the lights in a room a certain number of times before being able to leave, having to wash their hands repeatedly before they feel clean or even having to get dressed in a specific order or thinking about it all day.

Many people suffering from OCD tend to rely on marijuana and alcohol to calm some of the calm their obsessive thoughts so that they can try to function normally. This isn’t a good option, though because there are many things that you cannot do safely while you are under the influence. You cannot drive, shouldn’t take care of children and could lose your job if you try to self-medicate your OCD with marijuana or alcohol. The alcohol can also cause damage to your vital organs, such as your liver, kidneys, your heart, and even your brain.

Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention deficit disorder is a condition that can make it difficult to focus on things. Many people notice that they have ADD symptoms when they are younger and have difficulty focusing in school. If left untreated, when you get older the symptoms can worsen, making it difficult to focus on tasks at work or in your family life. Stimulant abuse is common with people who suffer from ADD because they feel that it helps them focus and keeps their thoughts from being so scattered.

The problem with using stimulants to treat ADD is that self-medicating ensures that you more than likely aren’t taking the right medications for you. Prescription medications for treating ADD need to be prescribed in specific doses in order to be safe and effective. When used improperly, stimulants can make your symptoms worse. They can cause you to feel overwhelmed, manic and even psychotic.

Schizophrenia Can Cause Delusion 

Schizophrenia is a condition that can completely take over your life and thus why many people attempt to self-medicate because they want to live a more normal life. Schizophrenia often causes hallucinations, disorganized thinking, and overreactions to situations. Many people use stimulants to try to treat schizophrenia because it makes their mania seem less disorganized. The stimulants alter their thinking process and can lead to them making poor decisions that can negatively impact their life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that comes with a lot of symptoms. It can include having night terrors, detachment from reality, hallucinations and extreme distress over seemingly normal situations. A common misconception associated with PTSD is that it is only suffered by military members. This isn’t the case, though. There are many people who have been through traumatic events who suffer from PTSD. Rape, molestation, spousal abuse, and even accidents can cause PTSD. Alcohol, ecstasy, meth and sleeping pills are all commonly taken by PTSD sufferers.

These drugs lead to addiction because they calm the mental distress that PTSD causes. These drugs can cause physical and mental damage such as lowering the dopamine production in the brain, making it difficult for people to feel joy on their own when they are on the drugs.

The best way to treat all of these conditions is through professional help. Talking to a psychiatrist about the issues that you are facing can be very effective for treating these conditions. There are medications that can be prescribed to treat the conditions safely and effectively. Taking control of your mental health provides you with peace of mind and the ability to function well in your daily life. If you have been using drugs to treat any of these mental health conditions, you need to seek professional help to overcome your addiction and get treatment for the condition in a safe and positive way.


Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.