Self injury is a form of harming one’s self in a way that is not meant to be deadly. It’s also commonly referred to as self harm, self abuse or self mutilation. There can be a number of reasons why people harm themselves in this way and multiple ways such harm can be carried out. There is almost always emotional pain associated with this activity. This is an often-misunderstood concept. Self-injury awareness is an important first step to getting help.
What is Self-Injury?
Self-harm is described as nonsuicidal injuries to oneself, which clinically is referred to as a nonsuicidal self-injury disorder. It is where someone purposely decides to cause physical heam to themselves without the intention of committing suicide.
Two of the more common forms of self-harm are cutting and burning. However, hitting and biting oneself, as well as pulling one’s hair or banging one’s head, are also other forms of self-harm.
What Causes Someone to Self-Harm?
While this disorder is more common in teenagers and adolescents, it can carry over into adulthood, especially if there is a traumatic experience causing the self-harm. Self-harm can also be triggered by abusive situations, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse.
Causing self-harm to oneself is a coping mechanism to address emotions related to pain, frustration, hurt, anger, neglect, and sadness. Other causes associated with self-harm include poor coping and social skills, low self-esteem, and difficulties expressing or managing one’s emotions.
During the act of self-harm, the individual experiences a rush of relief that is short-lived. Guilt and shame can set in as the feelings of elation fade away. As a result, the person gets caught up in a cycle very similar to drug and alcohol addiction, where they need to engage in ongoing self-harm to be able to function.
Is There a Link Between Self-Harm and Substance Abuse?
Individuals that engage in self-harm do have a higher risk of substance abuse. For instance, when the act of self-harm is no longer gratifying, the individual may turn to drugs or alcohol to complement the act.
They may abuse drugs or drink as a means to maintain the feelings of elation they experience when causing self-harm. The drugs or alcohol could also extend the “high” they are experiencing from self-harm.
Conversely, substance abuse can also lead to self-harm. As the effects of drugs or alcohol take effect, inhibitions are often lowered, along with the willingness to take greater risks. So, if someone has been contemplating self-harm, they will abuse substances first to work up the nerve to carry out the act of self-harm.
Statistics on Self-Harm and Substance Abuse
- Approximately 30% of teenagers and adolescents have committed some form of self-harm at least once.
- Roughly 70% of teenagers and adolescents that engage in ongoing self-harm have used drugs or alcohol at least once, either before or after the act of self-harm.
- About 55% of teens and adolescents who self-harm develop a co-occurring substance abuse disorder.
- About 23% of teens and adolescents continue to self-harm as adults.
Treating Self-Injury and Substance Abuse Disorders
The problem with treating self-harm and substance abuse disorders is they can be challenging to diagnose since they have similar symptoms. This is one of the reason that self-injury awareness is so important. Furthermore, those that self-harm may attempt to hide their injuries out of guilt and shame. They may also hide their substance abuse problems when self-harm is evident.
As a result, diagnosing nonsuicidal self-injury and substance abuse disorders requires experienced professionals with knowledge about these disorders and how those afflicted with them can attempt to hide them.
In addition, for treatment to be successful, both disorders must be treated as co-occurring conditions with a dual diagnosis. Those recovering from self-harm and substance abuse have a higher likelihood of success when receiving treatment for both conditions using various methods, including:
- Rehab Treatment
- Reality Therapy
- Trauma Therapy
- One-on-One and Group Sessions
- Learning and Developing Positive Coping Skills
- Nutritional Counselling
Throughout treatment, individuals learn how to substitute their self-harm behaviors for healthy behaviors, like mediation, yoga, exercise, and so on. Treatment programs also need to focus on the underlying reasons for self-harm and substance abuse.
Identifying and addressing past traumatic events, triggers, stressors, social settings, and other aspects of one’s life is essential in treating the co-occurring conditions. Once they can identify these causes, their treatment plan can be further tailored with therapies and treatments that will benefit them and help them on the road to recovery.
Self-Harm and Substance Abuse Treatment in Asheville, NC
At Crest View Recovery Center in Asheville, NC, we take an integrated approach to developing a treatment plan for those struggling with nonsuicidal self-injury disorder and substance abuse and addiction. Developing a dual-diagnosis treatment plan helps reduce treatment costs, creates the likelihood of better outcomes, and increases the ability to succeed in living a sober life without causing self-harm.
While it is crucial to address self-harm and substance abuse disorders year-round, Self Injury Awareness Day is helping people to become more informed about self-harm, symptoms, signs, and treatment options.
Self Injury Awareness Day usually takes place in March annually. However, if you suspect someone you love is self-harming, or if you are self-harming and need help, do not wait to get it. We offer custom-tailored co-occurring treatment programs for men and women of all ages.
Our objective is to provide the support and care they need to effectively manage their self-harm and substance abuse disorders and achieve success living a new sober life. For further information about self-harm and substance abuse treatment programs, please feel free to contact us today!