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Potential Pitfalls of Self-Medication

The term self-medication or self-medicating is used in a couple of different ways. In overall health or medical usage, self-medication refers to taking medicine without medical supervision. The other use of the term self-medicating refers to people who use drugs or alcohol to cope with emotional pain.

Self-Medication and Over-the-Counter Medications

When you take an over-the-counter (OTC) medication without consulting a doctor, you are self-medicating. For example, when you take an antihistamine for seasonal allergies, you are self-medicating. If you are prone to motion sickness, you may take Dramamine before going on a road trip. That, too, is self-medicating. You have probably done this your entire life without suffering many if any, ill effects.

However, there are possible adverse effects. For example, some antihistamines cause drowsiness. If you take two medications with similar active ingredients, like ibuprofen plus a prescribed inflammation medication, ¬†you could potentially get too much medication, possibly damaging your liver or kidneys. You should take some medications with food and some on an empty stomach to work properly. And while it’s not common, you could have an allergic reaction to an OTC, like itching or a rash.

Self-Medicating With Prescriptions

Self-medicating with prescription drugs can also occur. Taking antibiotics leftover from a previous illness is self-medicating and problematic. If you take antibiotics as prescribed, you usually take them all. However, when you take leftover antibiotics without consulting a health care provider, you could be taking antibiotics when you don’t need them. Also, this practice leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

If someone gives you leftover prescription medicine, the consequences could be serious because you are diagnosing yourself, which is rarely a good idea. Drug or food interactions could occur, and you are breaking the law. If you take pain medications more frequently than prescribed, that can result in health problems. That is also a great way to develop an addiction to pain medication.

Drugs and Alcohol for Emotional Pain

Although having a drink to unwind after a hard day is common, that is an example of self-medication as well. If one drink turns into several on a regular basis, that can become an addiction. Although having a drink to relieve stress is a time-honored tradition, there are better coping mechanisms.

Many people who end up in treatment for drug or alcohol addiction do so because they were drinking or using to relieve the emotional pain of unresolved trauma. While drinking or using drugs can make you feel better in the short term, they don’t address the core issues at the root of the abuse.

Self-medication can cause various problems, including addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, The Guest House can help you. In addition to helping people overcome addiction, we address the mental health issues that frequently co-occur and work with our clients to help them identify and resolve past trauma. Our treatment facility provides unparalleled, premier-quality treatment to our clients. For more information on our services and how we can help you overcome self-medicating behaviors, call The Guest House today at (855) 483-7800.