Some people let out their anxiety and frustration by locking themselves in their room or crying. Others develop an addiction to self-harm where you deliberately and intentionally hurt yourself with no intent of suicide. Current Psychiatry says that 90% of self-harmers experience temporary relief from overwhelming emotions and negative thoughts. Different forms such as hair pulling, biting, hitting, head-butting, burning, scratching, carving, and skin picking can help some self-harmers seek comfort while for others it can be a cry for help.
Many people who self-harm do this to themselves behind closed doors and hide the cuts and bruises through their clothes. BioMed Central says this addiction can occur in 12%-23% in adolescents and is more common among young females since they deal with certain emotional situations and peer problems than young men do.
What makes self-harm an addiction is when self-harmers crave the release that hurting themselves can bring. When the emotions escape, there is a brief calm sense of relief and a rush of endorphins. This type of relief is temporary and follows shame and grief afterwards. According to an Oxford study, 8.7% of self-harmers abuse drugs and alcohol as another way of seeking relief as well as a self-harm poison.
Drugs and alcohol can be used to self-medicate or help numb the pain. Drugs and alcohol can make it even more dangerous when self-harming since drugs and alcohol can slow reaction times and decrease nerve endings such as cutting too deep before realising the severity. Abusive substances can also worsen the feelings of depression and anxiety which can lead to more severe methods of self-harm like suicide.
There are many signs of self-harm such as if you know someone who has noticeable wounds that are not easily explained. Many avoid social situations and isolate themselves because they feel worthless or hopeless. Self-harmers also wear baggy or long-sleeved clothing at inappropriate times in order to hide their cuts. The arms, legs, and stomach are popular places where bruising is found as those areas are easily accessible and easy to hide. Sharp objects like razors, pieces of glass, knives, lighters, or scissors can be found in places that they should be in and at accessible places.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help diagnose both self-harm and substance abuse. Self-harmers need to learn how to uncover their issues and find healthier ways of coping before this can ruin your life.
Castle Craig Hospital is a landmark of addiction and mental health treatment in Scotland, serving the UK, the EU, and patients from all over the world. Our commitment to long term abstinence has created a successful programme of clinical and complementary therapies for mind, body, and spirit. Serving over 10,000 patients since 1988, the Castle Craig model is proven to change lives. Call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line for information: 0808 231 7723. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | March 10, 2021