Self Medication Theory of Addiction

People often get prescribed certain medicines but sometimes they start to self-medicate, that is, buy medicines that they think will help them for a particular condition. Usually these medicines taken in small doses and for a short duration are harmless and hence they are available over the counter.

Self Medication Theory of Addiction

But when one starts to self-medicate frequently and take these medicines over a longer period of time, they can get addicted to those medicines and it is like a form of drug addiction which can lead to serious side effects and even death in some cases.

Self-medication must be strictly avoided and one must always looks for signs of the person getting too dependent on the medicines. The theory of self-medication and addiction started doing the rounds in medical journals during the 1970s when physicians observed that heroin addicts started using the drug to deal with stress disorders. Here are a few more facts on the theory:

  • There are some types of medicines which are usually prescribed for illnesses but they are also used as recreational drugs by people, for example marijuana.
  • Marijuana is a very potent pain reliever and those people who suffer from chronic pain due to any condition were self-medicating by taking pills which contain marijuana.
  • Most doctors and psychologists consider this as an unacceptable behavior and think it is just an excuse to take those substances as some people continue to take the medicines even when they no longer need them because by that time they have got addicted to it.
  • A doctor is a medical expert and he knows how much amount of medicine to prescribe so that a person does not get addicted to it and he also allows gaps to avoid dependence of the pill. However, a general person does not know that and hence self-medication can lead to severe addiction.
  • Others consider this theory to be a creative way by which people with pain or depression solve their problems and issues; and they are not doing it for recreational purpose but to seek legitimate relief.
  • It sees people in a compassionate light and therapists can solve addiction problems together with the patient by working together to achieve their goal.
  • The harmful side of this theory is that it only looks at self-medicating as a physiological issue and the person remains in denial that these medicines can cause serious harm to his psyche while it is treating him physically.


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