The Meaning of “Self-Medication”

The biggest problem with “self-medication” is when it takes on a life of its own. Let’s say you drink, to self-medicate over anxiety about aspects of your life. Instead of thinking and doing something about those problems, you simply continue to drink. The result of not thinking or doing anything about those problems leads to greater anxiety, because unaddressed problems only worsen. So what to do next? Drink more. This cycle continues until drinking is so much a part of your life, and thinking or problem-solving so little a part of your life, that in effect you become paralyzed. The same is true with other “self-medicating” behaviors such as drug abuse, compulsive shopping, compulsive gambling, porn addiction, television addiction, or just about anything else. The issue is unhealthy escapism. It’s not the method with which you choose to escape that matters the most. What matters is WHAT you’re escaping. The hopeful aspect is that you can truthfully tell yourself: “I am free to resume thinking and problem-solving at any time. I can do this on my own, or I can hire or find others to do this with me–not for me, but with me. My capacity to think and problem-solve has diminished because it’s rusty, and I haven’t done it much lately. But the capacity is still there. If I learn, once again, to embrace thinking and problem-solving, it won’t be so terrifying to end the compulsive behavior.”