Using Drugs to Feel Better

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A big warning sign for addiction is that you are using drugs to feel better, that you are self-medicating. This idea might sound so obvious that writing an article about it is not worth the time, but for people who fall into the trap it’s not always obvious at all since denial plays such a central role in the lives of most addicts.

The stumbling block is that to consciously admit that you are self-medicating, you have to consciously admit that something is wrong, and going anywhere near that emotional minefield is scary, which is probably why you are using your substance of choice to cover it up in the first place. But exactly what it is you are covering up is sometimes ephemeral and quite hard to put into words. Unlike physical pain, emotional pain, especially when it occurs in childhood, is usually rationalized for so long that you come to doubt whether it’s really even there. It flits at the edge of your conscious thought where you might feel a deep sense of unease or discomfort but can’t really pin it down.

What you do know for sure is that your uncomfortable feeling goes away for awhile when you consume your drug and how could that be a bad thing? The answer is that, even putting the various harmful effects of the substance aside, all it is capable of doing is combating your emotional symptoms for a very brief period of time, just like taking cold medicine can only combat the symptoms of a virus. Luckily your antibodies usually come to the rescue for you without any conscious effort on your part.

But your emotional wounds will probably stay around forever until you decide to confront them squarely. They won’t just go away on their own, you have to be the antibodies and find relief through your own increased insight and effort. Like we said the only thing the drug can do for you is cover up your symptoms for a very brief period of time, but in so doing they become a dangerous crutch, helping you ignore your serious underlying problem.