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Addiction Treatment: Use of Drugs and Alcohol as Self Medication Can Lead to Addiction

The relationship between drug addiction, alcoholism and mental illness is a complicated one and many times greatly misunderstood.

History has shown us that many people who suffer from mental illness turn to drugs and alcohol as a means to self medicate, to tolerate feelings they believe to be intolerable. The problem here is self medicating rarely works in the long run and usually results in a person facing addiction or alcoholism.

Using drugs or alcohol as a means of self medicating only makes matters worse. A person with mental health issues should always meet with a psychiatrist who has been trained in the field of addiction and alcoholism (addictionology) for a full psychiatric evaluation. They will always ask about a person’s drug or alcohol use. In far too many cases, drug or alcohol use creates emotional problems which mimic a psychiatric illness and in cases like that, psychiatric medications might not be the answer. If after detox in an addiction treatment center or alcohol rehab, the psychiatric symptoms are still present, then the individual may be a candidate for medication.

Now, the real art in addiction medicine and dual diagnosis: the balancing act here is that it takes some time for the brain to recover from long term addiction or alcoholism. During this time in early recovery, the person might actually feel worse before they start feeling better. It is during this time the individual and their physician must make the decision as to whether or not they are improving, in spite of how they feel.

Recovering from addiction, alcoholism or dual diagnosis takes time. Everyone involved must have patience. It takes time for medications to take effect, time for the brain to recover and time for the human being to heal. Before someone turns to drugs or alcohol to medicate their feelings, it is suggested they get an evaluation at an addiction treatment center or alcohol rehab. If the problem is not drug or alcohol relatedFeature Articles, they can make a referral to a qualified psychiatrist.


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Jonathan Huttner is one of the the principals at Lakeview Health Systems, an addiction treatment facility treating alcoholism and drug addiction. Addiction treatment information and free live help 24/7 is being provided online at

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