Self-Harm Can Be Another Form of Addiction

Self-Harm Can Be Another Form of Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

If you think about it, addiction itself is a form of self-harm. An addiction can become so strong that it becomes the sole focus of your life to the detriment of other life-activities. Your marriage, career, and family relationships might slowly fall apart.

However, another form of self-harm that’s not often talked about, especially not among adults is self-harming behavior. It’s behavior in which you are inflicting direct harm to your own body, without the intention of committing suicide. It can include cutting, biting, scratching, burning, and bruising the skin. People might harm themselves as a way to feel physical pain, to create a lasting sign of distress, as a punishment for perceived failure, to release feelings, or to cope with strong emotions that might result from trauma or challenging past experiences. Using self-harm as a coping mechanism for anxiety and other strong emotions is most common among teens and adults.

However, there is a certain addiction that can develop with self-harming behavior. When someone hurts themselves through cutting their wrists for instance, endorphins are secreted into the bloodstream and they often experience a numbing or pleasurable sensation. For some people, cutting or harming their own body numbs any unpleasant thoughts and feelings and often a high comes with the experience. It can be similar to a high that comes with drug use. Over time, that high builds a psychological dependence and creates a compulsive need. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, behaviors, such as cutting, can have the same high or rush in the brain, which is similar to the use of drugs. In that way, addictions can resemble the physiological symptoms that the use of drugs and alcohol might create.

As you end the substance use, especially if you were using it as a coping tool for life’s challenges, you might find that self-harming behaviors increase. Because of the high that it brings, self-injury might be what you replace for the drinking or drug use. However, as you can imagine, it’s important to tend to self-harming behaviors. Self-injury treatment is multifaceted because at root there are many reasons why you might engaging in such behavior. For instance, self-harm is often a way to cope with intense emotions, to calm and soothe, to feel more alive if they feel disconnected or numb, or to release pent up anger. For this reason, part of the treatment would be to tenderly support you in getting in touch with the reason behind the behavior. Of course, self-injury treatment will need to first address the endorphin effect and break the cycle of addiction.

Once the reason behind the self-mutilation is identified, alternative coping mechanisms can be provided. For instance, if you need to release tension or vent anger, you might engage in vigorous exercise, punch a cushion or mattress, scream into a pillow, squeeze a stress ball, make some noise such as playing an instrument, banging on drums or even pots and pans. If you are cutting to calm and soothe, you might take a bath or hot shower instead, or participate in a yoga class, cuddle with a dog or cat, wrap up in a warm blanket, watch a relaxing movie, get a massage, or listen to soft music. If you are using self-injury as a way to feel alive again and to avoid feeling disconnected or numb, it might be helpful to call a friend instead, take a cold shower, or eat something with a strong taste or spice.

Of course, these are only suggestions. Yet, the best way to treat any kind of addiction, especially if it includes self-harming behavior, is to call upon the support of a mental health professional.


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Dangers of the Inner Critic

Dangers of the Inner Critic | Transcend Recovery Community

Some men, women, and even teens have a strong inner critic. They can be very self-judging, which leads to challenging feelings. And in turn, those feelings of low self-worth, shame, and self-rejection are difficult to bear and can lead to making choices to help remove oneself from those feelings, such as choosing to use drugs or drink.

For some, these difficult feelings are so strong and the sense of relaxation in the mind that drinking and drug use can offer can be the impetus for an entire addiction. Feeling better about oneself while drinking can be the power behind a lifetime of addiction.

Yet, addiction can be incredibly harmful to oneself and to others, as well as create great destruction in one’s life. Someone who is drinking on a regular basis might lose his or her job, end up divorced, and lose their children.

The inner critic is a part of their mind that tends to be critical and even negative. Sadly, many people who suffer from anxiety and depression experience a strong inner critic, a part of themselves that might make worse the psychological symptoms they experience. This is particularly true with depression. Often, depression is a way of being cut off from who you are, which is frequently a result of having had a destructive life. For instance, the difficult experiences of an abusive childhood, a life of addiction, growing up among strong criticism, living with intense guilt, and/or experiencing abandonment early in life can be situations that destroy the spark of life within. These situations and others can create thought patterns and beliefs like “I’m at fault”, “I’m not loveable”, “I’m not worth being loved”, or “My life isn’t worth anything”.

These kinds of thoughts, and worse, when these thoughts turn into beliefs, life can be very challenging, making drinking and drug use a viable option, regardless of the circumstances. The inner critic is sometimes referred to as having an oppressive ego structure. Yet, whatever you call it, there is a part of the self that is frequently judgmental, critical, and negative,

Interestingly, marijuana seems to be a drug of choice for those who tend to experience a strong inner critic. It seems to soften this part of the self, making it easier to be who one is. However, the transformation is actually illusory and instead might create a dependence on marijuana for feeling at ease with oneself. Of course, this kind of dependence is true for any drug that one uses on a regular basis.

Fortunately, instead of drug use and the possibility of addiction and self-harm, there are proven ways to ease the inner critic and make living a bit softer. The following are ways to quiet the inner critic, or at least challenge some of his or her beliefs.

  1. Examine Your Thoughts – The way one responds in their mind to the circumstances in life can have an influence on mood and feelings and thoughts. The thinking that goes on inside is the cognition domain and refers to all that happens inwardly, such as thoughts, images, memories, dreams, beliefs, attitudes, and where attention goes. All of these can contribute to negative thinking. And these can eventually lead to making choices that are destructive. Whether it’s with a therapist or by yourself, watch the thoughts you’re having and whether or not they are harmful.
  2. Evaluate Your Judgments – When you experience a judgment of yourself or others, take a close look at it. Is it true? Does your judgment have substance? Or is it simply a part of the negative thinking patterns that tend to follow the inner critic? If you can refute it, then it might be easier to let it go and not give it any more power.
  3. Challenge Yourself with Kindness – When you’ve seen that you’re judging yourself or when you notice that the inner critic is alive in your mind, do something kind for yourself. Perhaps go spend time near the ocean or prepare yourself a nurturing meal. Challenge that inner critic with kindness rather than believing in it and doing something later that you might regret.

Don’t let the inner critic ruin your life by propelling the start and growth of an addiction. Turn the volume down on that inner critic by no longer believing in it.


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You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert
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Self-Destructive Patterns of Addiction

Self-Destructive Patterns of Addiction |Transcend Recovery Community

No matter the addiction, whether it is an eating disorder, alcoholism, or even over-working, addiction is always a pattern of destruction. In fact, addiction not only destroys the life around you – relationships, career, physical health, and so on – it’s also destroying yourself. And, perhaps that’s where the destruction begins. Like a wheel with self-destruction at its center, the surrounding people, places, and things also feel the waves destruction too. Continue reading “Self-Destructive Patterns of Addiction”