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Mental Health & Self Medicating

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In an era where we're learning more and talking openly about mental health, self medication is a massively under-researched topic.

For most, self medication is short term - coping through a tough time or situation by using, say, alcohol or even drugs. But as we have learned, there are many other ways to self medicate. Some people over-exercise; others under-eat. Some folk spend too much or eat too much while others use sex as a coping mechanism.

For many, self medicating – whatever form it takes – is temporary and relatively harmless. Others cross a big invisible line into dependence and addiction.

Given the muddy waters, LifeSearch recently commissioned research to understand the scale of self medication in the UK; to see how and why people escape, and at what point(s) it leads to problems. 

The answers were eye-opening. 

It turns out that nearly half of Brits (45%) currently self-medicate their mental health, while 60% of us have done so in the past. At present, one in five of us rely on drugs and/or alcohol to cope. It's not a great picture. 

Most say they self medicate either to feel more in-control, or because they cannot talk to anyone about their mental health or their situation. Although self medication is a human response to pressure, many say they take their behaviour to extremes. 

The project is part of our Let's Start Talking campaign, an ongoing deep-dive into attitudes and mental health in the UK. We believe people are simply not having the kinds of open and honest conversations we need to have if we're to support and protect each other.




Find out why we are now encouraging the UK to talk about mental health and self-medication 

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Want nothing but the stats? Check out our info-graphic

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