Letter to the Editor: Mental health and substance abuse

To the Editor:

Drinking and using drugs to change your moods, face your fears, or deal with painful emotions? Self-medicating may offer some relief in the short-term, but over time it only exacerbates the issues that you are dealing with.

Signs that you may be self-medicating include:

You turn to drugs or alcohol when you’re feeling anxious, stressed or depressed. If you are regularly drinking or using drugs to cope with stress, relieve boredom or improve how you feel, there is a strong possibility you’re self-medicating.

Your problems are multiplying. You started drinking to cope with stress, but now you’ve got health, relationship and financial problems to cope with as well. And the stress is even worse. The more you self-medicate, the more problems it creates in your life.

It takes more and more self-medicating to gain relief. Where it once took just one or two drinks to ease your anxiety or de-stress at the end of the day, now it takes three, four or more. As you continue to self-medicate, your tolerance will continue to increase - as will the problems caused by your increased substance use.

Your friends and family are worried about your substance use. Have people who care about you expressed their concern that you seem to be drinking more than usual? Or perhaps they’ve noticed the changes in your personality, behavior or social life? Substance abuse can affect those around you just as much as it affects you. It takes great strength to listen to your loved ones’ fears and recognize when your substance use has become a problem.

If you, or someone you know, are struggling with mental health issues and/or substance abuse, get help now. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has established a free, confidential information service open 24 hours/365 days a year, for individuals and family members facing mental health issues or substance abuse disorders. They can direct you to resources available in your area. SAMHSA may be reached at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). If you would like additional support, I may be reached at gottahavehope38@gmail.com or by letter to 559 West Broadway Street, Winona, MN 55987.

Respectfully submitted,
Mark Jacobson
Peer Support Sp
Winona, MN