If you’re new to recovering or considering getting help, one of the first lessons you’ll learn is the lie we tend to tell ourselves while in active addiction. Alcohol, substances and other forms of addiction may seem like a “problem” to those on the outside looking in – but for us, it’s a solution. It’s a way for us to try and drown out the problems that we have or the mustering thoughts and feelings that seem to nag at our hearts. This tactic seems to work temporarily, until we realize that they don’t go away forever – and that’s when addiction develops, because we have to keep the cycle going in order to keep our pain at bay.
Self-medication is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as,
“The use of medication by individuals to treat self-recognized disorders or symptoms.”
In 2017, the Psychiatric Times explained the hypothesis of using substances as a form of self-medication – as a way to relieve psychological suffering. One person shared their story of this through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); she explained that alongside a sense of crippling anxiety, the medication prescribed to her quickly became addiction as it took away the symptoms that left her on the verge of tears every day.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that in 2017, approximately 2 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers and with such easy access to substances through friends and family members, it becomes easier than ever to use substances to self-medicate. Little do we realize that not only are substances not the solution, but they exacerbate the problems that we have in life because they distract us from focusing on what really matters. Only once we’re in recovery can we address the issues face to face – and be on the path towards healing and restoration.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.