Self-destructive Tendencies and Addiction

Chances are that most people have at one point done something marginally self-destructive out of anger, fear, hopelessness, or other emotions that cause people to knowingly harm themselves. While this may be a commonplace human psychological reaction, some people tend to gravitate towards self-destruction more than others, but the cause is rooted far deeper than a personality trait. 

Much like the myth of an “addictive personality,” the propensity for some individuals to exhibit self-destructive behaviors stems from certain emotional, social, and environmental triggers that are connected to trauma. With these internal and external forces at play, many find themselves misusing substances to cope with their unresolved issues, potentially leading down a dangerous road of addiction.

Examples of Self-Destructive Behaviors

  • People-pleasing and putting personal needs behind everyone else’s
  • Negative self-image and self-loathing
  • Withdrawal from social circles and hobbies
  • Frequent lying and denial to self and others
  • Finding comfort in self-pity and victimization
  • Unrealistically high expectations of self and others
  • Engaging in dangerous behaviors for attention
  • Combativeness with loved ones
  • Reoccurring suicidal thoughts
  • Overindulging or deprivation of bodily needs like sleeping and eating
  • Habitual substance misuse

Those who struggle with addiction regularly exhibit one or more of these forms of self-destruction. It’s important to identify these behaviors as part of something bigger and acknowledge the risk of addiction in individuals who show symptoms.

A Possible Dual-Diagnosis

It’s not uncommon for people who engage in self-destructive behaviors to suffer from untreated mental illness and substance use disorder. Addiction is often linked with anxiety disorder, depression, eating disorder, personality disorder, and PTSD – all of which can cause someone to harm themselves while also seeking solace in misusing substances. The criteria for diagnosing non-suicidal self-injury may include:

  • Self-harming behavior for at least five days out of the year
  • Seeking positive feelings and relief from self-injury activities 
  • Frequent urges to self-destroy or fixation with the idea
  • Feelings of distress when attempts to self-injure are thwarted
  • Self-harm behaviors aren’t linked to any other mental illness

Psychiatry is an advanced science, but there is considerable overlap between various disorders and behaviors that may fit into specific categories. This makes self-awareness and observation essential to correctly diagnosing substance use disorder connected to a mental illness that drives these harmful propensities.

Seeking Treatment

Self-destructive behavior and substance misuse often go hand-in-hand, making seeking help impossible. Many people exhibiting these behaviors often don’t want to stop because their goal is to continue a cycle of self-abuse. These low feelings of unworthiness and self-hatred need to be attended to assist them in believing they are worthy of recovery.

It’s difficult to understand what drives self-destructive behaviors in some individuals, but those who bear witness to their loved ones suffering should not feel hopeless. Medication-assisted programs at Middlesex Recovery offer professional medical care by specialized providers who understand that addiction is a chronic disease with many facets. Patients are treated with respect and dignity as they work with staff, including substance use counselors, to manage their symptoms and work towards long-lasting recovery. To learn more about the treatment programs available at Middlesex Recovery, message or call a nearby location today.

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