Jul 11 2019 Erie, PA

An essay by Brian McLaughlin, Advocate

Mental and Emotional Health and the Dark Art of Self-Medicating

Self-medicating is a common folly among persons with Serious Mental Illness. I must confess even I have dabbled in this dark art.

  One common means of self-medication occurs with an innocent trip to the vitamin and herbal supplement store, on-line or in the real world. People entrust their health to promises of gentle relief of symptoms via vitamins and herbal preparations. Far too often professional consultation is avoided in favor of the latest promising news story of an herbal supplement said to relieve psychiatric symptoms.

  I personally wasted years suffering as I chased after these promising cures. Time and money, I should have invested in a professional medical consult.

  The problems with these remedies are many. They are unregulated and the purchaser can never be sure of the quality or purity of the product. Dosages many be suggested but not well studied and when the product fails, the user often resorts to the more is better school of thought. This is dangerous as these unregulated, poorly studied substances are not inert. They have an action. Just not the one that will restore you to good health.

  The next dark art of self-medication is alcohol; in my case beer…yes glorious frosty beer. Available cheaply on every corner in cans, bottles or convenient kegs. While temporarily numbing psychiatric pain like depression and anxiety, in the end alcohol including beer is a depressant. The resulting depression leads to even greater consumption and prolonged consumption; forever chasing the promise of peace that will not come.

  When alcohol fails to bring lasting relief far too many of our brothers and sisters turn to illegal street drugs. They fail to bring peace and health. This is evidenced by the many bodies now piling up like cord wood in coroners' freezers across the country and here at home.

  If a person survives to seek professional medical attention and advice, they are given well studied, federally regulated and controlled medications. Sadly, far too often patients practice the dark art of what I like to call the "giggle gaggle". Specifically, they begin taking the medications in ways and amounts not approved or over seen by a health professional. Often the more is better mentality previously discussed kicks in.

  Finally, some resort to the darkest of all arts, some combination of supplements, alcohol, illegal and prescribed drugs. Practicing this darkest of art leads only to ill health and death.

  Therefore, to avoid the waste of valuable time, money, needless suffering, and even death, it is better to seek and strictly follow expert medical advice for the treatment of serious mental illness. And encourage others to avoid the dark arts of self-medicating.

 Description: Essay outlining the danger and the fallacy of treating mental and emotional illness by self-medicating with street drugs, supplements or alcohol. It is better to seek expert medical advice.

Respectfully Submitted,


Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS/CPS
MH Consumer Advocate
Erie County, PA.


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