Today’s guest post comes from Adam Cook. In addition to the references and resources he shares, I want to also include Mentalhealth.gov. Getting the treatment you need can make a huge difference, so please reach out.
Many people do not realize that mental illness and addiction too often go hand in hand. An addiction can cause mental illness symptoms while a mental illness can cause addiction.
Tobacco abuse is a close second for similar reasons. When someone is diagnosed with a mental illness, it is not uncommon for them to begin self-medicating with substances rather than seek proper treatments due to the stigma against mental health.
For those with anxiety, here are a few of the potential risks when it comes to addiction.
Self-Medicating in Social Situations is All Too Easy
Going out for drinks or a cigarette with friends is not uncommon. However, when someone with anxiety performs this behavior, they are often using the substance to blunt social anxiety.
Many people who suffer from anxiety get nervous in social settings and leap at the chance to take the edge off with a drink or smoke break.
A smoking or drinking habit may not seem harmful but, with repetitive behavior, it can easily become a dependency. Eventually, the person may find themselves unable to socialize without a substance of some kind, leading them down the road of self-medication and addiction.
Substance Abuse Worsens Symptoms Over Time
Though substances can dull the symptoms anxiety temporarily, these symptoms actually become worse as the habit persists.
After abusing a substance for a certain length of time, the user will experience more severe anxiety, prompting them to self-medicate with the substance again. This results in a vicious cycle and potentially puts the person in danger as “doses” increase.
It is critical that someone who is self-medicating receives treatment for both the illness and the addiction. Treating only one or the other will have little effect without tackling issues caused by the other.
Self-Medication Typically Means a Person is Not Receiving Treatment
Too many people suffer from anxiety disorders and do not receive treatment. The stigma against mental health issues prevents a number of people from even seeking help to begin with.
Proper treatment of an anxiety disorder should eliminate the need to self-medicate with therapy and possibly medication for the disorder. If you are self-medicating in place of seeking help, you should contact a therapist with experience in addiction and mental illness.
People suffering from addiction that emerges from an undiagnosed or inadequately treated mental illness require immediate treatment.
Not only are they aggravating the symptoms of their illness, but they are also putting their physical health at risk.
It is important that a treatment program tackles both the addiction and the mental illness simultaneously as they work side by side to create and amplify a person’s symptoms.
You may feel that your self-medicating is working to control your illness but in reality, proper treatment is what you need to regain control over your life. Seek help and kick the habit.
Adam Cook has a strong understanding of the devastation that can be caused by addiction. He recently lost a close friend to an addiction-related suicide. In an effort to better educate himself and to help others, he created AddictionHub.org, a site that provides addiction and mental health resources.
When he isn’t working or adding to his website, he’s prepping for his first triathlon.
One great thing about credit cards is that you can use when your car breaks down on the highway and you need a tow and there’s not enough cash in your wallet or an ATM nearby.
If you have that cash in savings, you’d immediately pay your card and you’ll have no interest to pay. The problem is when you don’t have the savings and that emergency is growing on your credit card.
Start an Emergency Fund Quickly
A first goal is to save enough to cover monthly bills, then your next goal might be 2-3 months. Have a portion of your paycheck transferred to a high interest savings account. Start small, like 5% of your income, and automate your money to transfer to high yields savings. You’ll be surprised how you won’t notice the little decrease in spending money. If you get comfortable, you can increase the amount.
Whenever you purchase groceries with a coupon, deposit your savings into the bank.
Tutor a young student in a subject you know.
Reuse any items you can rather than buying new, and pocket the difference in your emergency fund.
Shop around for a new insurance provider.
While paying attention to small, repetitive expenses, don’t ignore larger decisions like your car, house, and wedding. With smart choices on big-ticket items, you could fully fund an emergency account with the savings.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to save some money. You just have to be creative and motivated to make it happen.
Why We Use ING Direct for Our Emergency Fund
We’ve been with them for years and love it their checking and savings accounts. They have all the major features we’re looking for with a bank:
Covered by FDIC
No monthly maintenance fee
$0 required minimum balance
Free online BillPay service
Conveniently located ATMs
Earn some interest rate if possible
While they don’t have the highest rates, they’re still competitive and their customer service has been great for the few occasions we’ve had to use them.
Thoughts on Starting an Emergency Fund
Have you had to adjust and move away from credit cards to a proper emergency fund? How have you been able to work as a couple and build your emergency fund?