The Dangers of Normalizing Self-Medicating to Cope with Stress

Emotional Distress May Increase Risk of Self-Medicating

Although it’s quite socially acceptable in the western world to “blow off steam” with a few too many drinks, sometimes involving other substances, the nonchalant attitude surrounding these habits is becoming worrisome. In current pop culture, there is an apparent trend of celebrating “wine moms” or parents who cheekily joke about not being able to cope with parenting or family life without a bottle of wine. Aging millennials who, based on this type of humor, can’t seem to manage “adulting” without a drink in hand and recreational drug use. These types of witticisms appear everywhere, from slogans on t-shirts and coffee mugs to tv shows and commercials. There are many more examples, but these ideas and concepts are more popular than ever, practically making light of people self-medicating with mind-altering, addictive substances, which creates a dangerous slippery slope of the normalization of this hazardous behavior.

Why is Self-Medication so Popular?

While using substances to deal with trauma, stress, emotional pain, or even boredom has been part of human behavior likely for centuries, the current trend of minimizing self-medication probably comes from many different factors. Most obviously, the past decade or so has seemingly been nothing but a barrage of devastating, panic-inducing news that people are subjected to 24 hours a day thanks to the internet and mobile alerts.

However, there’s more to it, particularly when you look at the endless amount of new products on the market that contain alcohol, like the ever-popular boozy seltzers that make drinking seem so casual and harmless, like taking a sip of a soda. The trend doesn’t end at alcoholic beverages, though; in pop -memetic media, there are reoccurring jokes about casual prescription drug misuse like needing an Adderall to keep up with massive workloads, a Xanax to “take the edge off” and mixing them with alcohol to have a good time, which is prolific in current music.

On top of the stealthy examples of how the normalization of self-medication has crept into everyday conversation and media exposure, there seems to be a collective attitude among many people that life is ostensibly becoming more unbearable by the day. With many having very little access to mental health resources, the most sensible solution is to seek out fun and relaxation with drugs and alcohol to cope.

Self-Medicating doesn’t Work

In fact, it usually makes things worse. For people who are crushed by the daily burden, they feel in their personal lives or from the horrible things happening around the world, getting intoxicated won’t fix any of these problems. It will, however, potentially result in everything from a terrible two-day hangover to a crippling addiction that will undoubtedly make life monumentally more turbulent in the long term. With overdose deaths at an all-time high, people must begin to understand how insidious this kind of humor has become, and education about the importance of healthy coping mechanisms will ultimately do much more to make life more endurable than a cycle of substance misuse.

Middlesex Recovery is dedicated to helping people treat substance use disorder and achieve long-lasting recovery. Specialized medical providers and nursing staff work with patients in a private, office-based outpatient clinic, offering flexible treatment programs and a professional, nonjudgmental environment. Along with medication-assisted treatment, Middlesex Recovery also offers substance use counseling for patients, giving them the tools to learn healthier coping mechanisms to improve their mental and overall health. To learn more about how Middlesex Recovery is helping so many people make addiction a thing of the past, call or message a nearby office today.