This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
I sent an odd email to my father the other day. I was intoxicated when I sent it; actually I was high. I had been smoking weed for the past week almost daily and not entirely sure why I reached for my stash each night and proceeded to put myself into a stoned state. The experience was not always a good one. In fact, on some nights I descended into an extreme paranoia even when there was nobody around to trigger it. The positive effects, I guess you could call them, were my racing thoughts and the hypo-mania my personality lends itself to while high. There were so many brilliant ideas shooting off like fireworks from my synapses, but translating these ideas into writing seemed increasingly difficult. To me, drugs have always been a way to make contact with another world, another dimension of myself. The night I sent the email to my father I was researching the growing trend in selfmedication. I rummaged through the top results on Google for self-medicated (it turns out this is also a movie) and self-medication. First I wanted to know the definition of self-medication so I turned to Wikipedia. Self-medication is the use of drugs or self-soothing forms of behavior to treat a perceived or real malady. Self-medication is often referred to in the context of a person self-medicating, in order to alleviate their own distress or pain. What originally drew me to the idea of self-medication was the broadness of the topic and the number of people (I knew) who seemed to self-medicate in one form or another. While addiction is a term usually reserved for a specific class of people enslaved by their substance of choice; self-medication sounded more ambiguous. Surely, it doesn t have to be ambiguous. There are plenty of people suffering from mental illnesses in which self-medication is a clinical fact. The correlation is so common that doctors have come to expect it in patients with depression, posttraumatic stress syndrome, and anxiety disorders. These people have real maladies. But what about those of us who don t? I m pretty sure I don t suffer from a real or perceived malady, and yet I self-medicate. But my definition of "self-medication" is broad. For example, I drink coffee at least twice a day. This has become a sort of ritual, like a religious exercise. I have my coffee at a local Border s. I always bring The New York Times with me; I find a comfortable chair in a spot where there are few distractions. Coffee is a powerful stimulant, but sometimes I think the ritual holds more sway over my body. I m also addicted to cigarettes, which I ve tried to quit many times. My essay The Divided Self gives a psychological portrait of my struggle to quit smoking. I keep
or perhaps because I was stoned. After all.telling myself that my smoking is temporary. Dysphoria is a term sometimes associated with self-medication. And so we can expand self-soothing forms of behavior to include almost anything. Exposure To Organic Solvents . . and I would like to know of how many people identify themselves in this way . The growth of the pharmaceutical industry in the last two decades has led to many of us becoming connoisseurs of our own vague conditions. as if nicotine were a drug I ve prescribed to myself to cope with reality for the time being. taking a pill. But I digress. eating. at least temporarily. My father has never taken illegal drugs and he rarely drinks more than a glass of wine. We take pills rather nonchalantly for every slight problem that arises. The question posed in the title of this essay is not meant to be condescending. exercising. Self-medication is not always a bad thing. the effects of an undesirable mood such as sadness or anxiety. And you don t need a prescription drug in order to self-medicate. But he engages in many self-soothing forms of behavior from meditation to yoga to hiking. What's the underlying malady my father self-medicates with his intensive yoga practice? Maybe it's stress. but it seems my father with his "healthy" practices and me with my "unhealthy" ones are attempting to treat some internal issue. our own dysphorias. . there was a section of the Wikipedia definition that stood out from the rest even as I was stoned. or lessen. like my cigarettes. And this is especially true of teenagers and women between the ages of 18 and 44 in the United States. I think this complicates the matter further. maybe over-activity or insomnia. "How many of us are self-medicating?" Because I have a hunch that self-medication is pervasive. I don't know. But I'm curious about human behavior in general and why we medicate ourselves in the broadest sense of the term. The email I sent to my father was odd because I sought to convince him of the connection between my mother s degenerative disease and her incessant painting with toxins and solvents. "selfmedication" could simply be a metaphor for how we cope with reality. I seriously want to know. Because most of the time it's true. You see. How many of us engage in behaviors to alter our mood? The American culture clings to the idea that shopping. Does it sound like I'm validating my behaviors? I hope not. The vast selection of over-the-counter drugs practically grants the consumer status as diagnostician. as I see it. The general idea is that we self-medicate to assuage. and (fill in the blank) will make us feel better.
or drinking. at the moment. creating for herself an abundance of selfsoothing behaviors. I m not smoking weed. I wondered if my mother was self-medicating because. But maybe those things are not considered self-medication . your mother was not self-medicating. Occupational exposure to organic solvents can lead to alcoholism with higher numbers of painters for example suffering from alcoholism.Chronic exposure to organic solvents in the work environment can produce a range of adverse neuropsychiatric effects. and obsessive-compulsively. Gradually her nervous system broke down until she lost her ability to draw a straight line on the canvas. I still drink coffee twice a day and smoke a pack of cigarettes. It is possible that a small number of alcoholics are self medicating the toxic effects of organic solvents albeit with another toxic substance alcohol. By CRA 7/16/09 More Essays . I ve decided to put the pot away. But she did plenty of other things excessively. as an oil painter. Two roommates have just moved into my house and the new experience of living with other people has motivated me to go to sleep at a normal hour and avoid the temptation to self-medicate. she was exposed to many toxins. My mother never drank a sip of alcohol. But my father sent me a curt reply: No.
By CRA 7/16/09 More Essays .