Self-Mutilation and Substance Abuse Help
Self-mutilation, also called self-harm, is a compulsive behavioral disorder that causes a person to cut or otherwise hurt him or herself. Contrary to common opinion most people with this disorder are not suicidal or simply seeking attention. They suffer from a serious psychological disorder that, if left untreated, may lead to additional problems including substance abuse and depression.
The Causes of Self-Mutilation
Self-mutilation provides relief from emotional pain, anxiety or numbness. The human brain has a natural mechanism for controlling pain. A complex and intricate network of chemical signals manages the flow of pain signals in the body. After injury a natural spike of chemicals called endorphins blocks those pain signals to some extent. Endorphins also provide a sort of organic “high” in the pleasure center of the brain. This is the same area that manages anxiety, controls emotions, creates and recalls memories and reinforces behaviors. Any activity that results in a stimulation of the pleasure center will be craved. In time the person loses control and must obey the urge to cause him or herself pain. There are many co-occurring behavioral and psychological characteristics that may cause, or be caused by, self-mutilation habits, and these include the following:
- Eating disorders
- Borderline personality disorder
- Emotional numbness
As with other compulsive behavior disorders, sometimes called “process addictions,” it can be difficult to know where one aspect of the disease ends and another begins. It can also be challenging to understand which aspects of the disorder cause the others. What is known is that this is a serious psychological illness that requires careful, professional treatment.
Cutting Can Lead to Addiction
Though cutting often happens as a result of anxiety or psychological distress, it also causes both of those things. It is common for those struggling with self-harm to unknowingly self-medicate their anxiety with substances like drugs or alcohol. The mind can easily transfer its cutting addiction to an addiction to intoxicating substances. Drugs and alcohol do not provide real relief, so the individual is left with two disorders instead of one.
Treatment for Self-Mutilation and Addiction
There are a wide variety of therapeutic approaches used to treat self-mutilation addiction. Some of these techniques include the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Avoidance techniques
- Support group therapy
Treatment for self-mutilation is similar to treatment for addiction. The best results often come through residential care. The accountability offered through rehab facilities combined with a focus on healing and offers the best chance for lasting recovery. The most successful programs treat self-mutilation and substance abuse issues in an integrated way. Patients struggling with these disorders must be treated body, mind and spirit.
Where to Find Help for Self-Mutilation and Substance Abuse
Our recovery counselors can help you find the best treatment for your unique needs. Call our toll-free helpline any time of day or night. We will answer your questions and help you take the first steps toward freedom from self-mutilation and substance abuse. Life is precious and short. Don’t waste another day caught in the trap of self-harm and addiction. Call today.