Self-injury and self-mutilation is an Addiction

Self-injury and self-mutilation is an Addiction


Many of us don’t think of self-mutilation as an addiction. We think of drugs, alcohol, gambling and even sex as addictions, but rarely do we classify cutting, burning or other self-harm acts as an addiction. Many people turn to self-mutilation as a consequence of simply inadequate coping skills, the same reason that many turn to drugs. Nearly 2 million people identify themselves as “self-injurers” in the United States alone. Self-injury is defined as a deliberate injury to one’s body that causes tissue damage or marks on the skin as a way to deal with overwhelming feelings or situations. Self-harm is usually not done with the intention of suicide, yet in some cases death does occur. There are many different ways in which people self-harm, they include: cutting, branding, picking at skin or wounds, hair pulling, hitting, excessive piercing or tattooing and even drinking harmful chemicals. At first people usually stumble upon self-harm due to hearing about it and think that it may help them cope with unbearable feelings that they don’t know how to other wise express. People will continue to self-harm if it proves as a successful way of relieving uncomfortable emotions. Endorphins, which are the “feel-good” chemicals in your brain are released during self-harm and are natural pain killers. People recognize the relief self-harm grants them as well as the feeling that they get from the release of endorphins and thus the behavior turns into an addiction. Once the behavior passes into that of an addiction, even though the person may be feeling shame or remorse they find it increasingly difficult to stop.

People who self-harm exhibit some similar traits. Having a limited social support system may contribute as well as growing up in a family where expressions of emotions are discouraged. Many self-injurers usually are also dealing with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. There are many ways that a loved one can contribute to getting someone help. Some examples of ways that a loved one can help a self-injurer include: encourage expressions of emotions, offering a listening empathetic ear, offering to share enjoyable activities and offering support in the way of a therapist of professional. It is also very important to shy away from judgment or shame as it may trigger the self-injurer to want to harm themselves more due to low self-esteem and a feeling of worthlessness.

  • macadamia

    October 23, 2008 at 4:11 pm Reply

    I feel that this issue is a hard one to understand unless you have personally dealt with it or had a close relation to someone who has. It takes a lot for people to even slightly understand what this person’s state of mind is in. Learning how to cope, help and not judge is something that is really important.

  • kelzz89

    October 29, 2008 at 3:54 am Reply

    I love to pick my scabs, but have never hurt myself in any other way. I do not get a rush or anything, its simply a habit, or even a way to keep my hands from fidgeting.

  • srrosenstein

    October 29, 2008 at 2:59 pm Reply

    I think that self injury is definitely an adddiction that can get just as bad as an addiction to drugs, gambling, etc

  • srrosenstein

    October 29, 2008 at 3:01 pm Reply

    I think self mutilation is definitely an addiction and it can become just as bad as drug addiction, gambling, etc

  • Andrea

    October 29, 2008 at 4:30 pm Reply

    i agree with the first comment that this issue is a difficult one to understand, there should be more information and education in schools for kids and parents so we can be prepared and equipped to reach out and point a person in need in the most helpful direction.

  • ABC

    October 29, 2008 at 5:11 pm Reply

    that’s some pretty interesting stuff. never been my thing but i understand the addiction manifesting in other ways for different people.

  • ninhaloten1119

    October 31, 2008 at 6:00 am Reply

    self mutilation is very dangerous and can be really addicting!

  • Anonymous

    December 29, 2009 at 11:49 am Reply

    i've dealt with self injury and it's definitely an addiction. it is a rush. there need to be more treatment centers for it, because for a lot of people therapy isn't enough. they need to get away from everything and be in a hospital to really be able to stop.

  • Criminal Injury Compensation

    May 3, 2011 at 4:54 am Reply

    Once the behavior passes into that of an addiction, even though the person may be feeling shame or remorse they find it increasingly difficult to stop.

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