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Drug Abuse and Self-HarmSelf-harm is a pattern of behavior that is closely associated with drug abuse in several ways. The two destructive sets of practices share risk factors, occur together frequently, and play similar psychological roles in the minds of the people who engage in them. If you or a loved one in Tennessee is struggling with both addiction and self-harm, such as cutting, burning or scratching oneself, seek professional treatment immediately.

Tennessee Residents Who Self-Harm

What is self-harm and why would Tennessee residents engage in this self-destructive behavior? Any kind of deliberate act that is done to oneself for the sole purpose of causing pain or injury is considered self-harm. The most common method of chronic self-harmers is cutting of the skin. Burning, pricking, preventing a wound from healing, even poisoning are all possible self-harming methods. The important factor in defining self-harm is not the method but the intent and motivation of the harmer. The physical pain and the harm are caused deliberately and actually help the harmer feel temporary relief from deep emotional pain.

Co-Occurring Problems for Tennessee Residents

Many people who abuse drugs also engage in self-harm. The two problems are related to one another in different ways, and some Tennessee addicts may be self-harmers, and vice versa.

Sometimes drugs and alcohol may be used for the purpose of causing harm. A self-harmer may drink in order to feel sick or use an opiate just to set up withdrawal pain. Self-harm can also be part of the withdrawal syndrome of some drugs of abuse. A class of central nervous system depressants, called benzodiazepines, can establish a strong physical addiction in the user. Destructive impulses, such as urges to self-harm, are possible symptoms of withdrawal of these drugs.

Many people use alcohol while causing self-harm. A study of the problem in Northern Ireland, published in the journal Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland in 2007 and 2008, found that nearly two thirds of patients admitted to emergency units for self-harm injuries had been using alcohol. The authors concluded that alcohol contributed to episodes of self-harm, but it was not by itself causing the patients to harm themselves.

Shared Risk Factors of Self-Harm and Addiction

Many kinds of personal issues common among drug abusers are also prevalent among self-harmers. These emotional and psychological issues include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • A childhood history of abuse
  • Low self-esteem
  • Underdeveloped coping skills

All of these experiences can create psychological issues and emotional pain that can be relieved, in a way, with drug abuse or self-harm.

Two Maladaptive Behaviors

Unfortunately, both drug abuse and self-harm are poor solutions to any psychological or emotional problem. Over time, both drug abuse and self-harm give less and less relief from psychological pain. Also, each behavior causes a myriad of other risks and problems. For these reasons, both of these problems are called “maladaptive behaviors” by psychologists.

Self-harm can even become psychologically addictive, as self-harmers schedule and look forward to their cutting sessions. When the time comes for the harming, which is often done in accordance with a ritual, the person can feel tremendous distress if the harming must be postponed or stopped. She can be dependent on the temporary release of stress that comes from the physical harm.

Addiction and Self-Harm Treatments for Tennessee Residents

Self-harm and drug abuse are similar in some of their psychological patterns. They also respond to some similar treatments. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to help people to retrain the thought and behavior patterns that lead to both drug abuse and self-harm. Avoidance techniques can also be used to help someone replace maladaptive behaviors by removing the objects used in self-harm or drug use and steering her to exercise or talking.

Help for Addiction and Self-Harm

If you or a loved one in Tennessee is suffering from addiction and self-harm behaviors, call our toll-free helpline to get the help you need to recover. Our staff of trained counselors are available to take your call 24 hours a day and can help you learn more about addiction and connect you with treatment and rehabilitation options that are right for you.