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Reasons for substance misuse

Reasons for substance misuse

Regardless of whether or not people have mental health problems, their reasons for misusing substances are likely to be many and varied. These include the following: the ‘buzz’, it is the norm in the person’s social circle, to give energy, to unwind and aid relaxation, to alleviate boredom, to block out painful thoughts and negative feelings (for example anger, anxiety), to boost confidence, and to avoid withdrawal symptoms. In people with mental health problems the notion of ‘self-medication’ has received particular attention. A literature review conducted by Phillips and Johnson  found evidence of people with severe mental illness using drugs to self-medicate negative symptoms, mood problems, anxiety and insomnia.

Although it has been suggested that drugs are also used to deal with positive symptoms and the side effects of medication, Phillips and Johnson report that the findings are inconsistent.

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