Self-Harm and Addiction: Overcoming Self-Destructive Behaviors


Self-harm occurs when a person purposely hurts themself, many times as a desperate attempt to seek relief from emotional pain. By definition, self-harm is non-fatal, but the behavior is closely linked to suicidal ideation and actions, so any self-injurious behaviors should be taken seriously and attended to by mental health professionals. 

While older adults have been known to engage in self-harm, the behavior is more common in younger adults, with 15% of college students reporting to have engaged in self-harming behavior, according to the American Psychological Association.


Substance abuse is a known risk factor for self-harm, and self-injury often occurs alongside addiction. In fact, substance abuse can be viewed as a form of self-harm. Additionally, the feelings of shame, lowered inhibitions, and impaired judgment associated with substance abuse may also motivate self-injury. 


Serving as unhealthy ways to deal with emotional pain, both self-harm and substance abuse can offer a detrimental escape from distress. Treatment for self-harm and addiction should address the underlying emotional pain causing the self-destructive behaviors and help individuals find relief in healthy ways.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and self-harm, Wasatch Crest’s team of addiction treatment specialists can help heal addiction as well as any other self-harming behaviors. Reach out to learn more about our addiction treatment programs. 

Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline and the Crisis Text Line offer 24/7 mental health support.

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