If you struggle with body image, then you know the emotional roller coaster surrounding it. Adding substance abuse to that can make it all the more complicated. What is the link between body image and substance abuse? This is a question best answered by understanding what body image is, and how it can be affected by substance abuse. Turning to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with the negative thoughts you may have about your body is never the answer. It will only exacerbate the negative self-talk and thoughts, and add to that a whole new monster to fight. Exploring and understanding this correlation can be crucial to fighting both of these monsters.
Body image is defined as the thoughts and feelings you have surrounding your own body. How you view yourself in the skin you’re in. These thoughts and feelings can be anywhere on the spectrum from positive to negative. In other words, you can have a wonderful view of yourself or you may feel completely broken by what you see in the mirror. Where the link between body image and substance abuse can be seen is in the latter. That negative self-image can often lead to mental health and substance abuse problems in those who struggle with this.
Negative body image can make a person feel less than, or that they are not good enough. It often can lead to depression and anxiety surrounding their body. Whether that means the clothes being worn, or even going out in public at all. Often this depression and anxiety can lead someone to turning to drugs and alcohol as a way of dealing with the mental health concerns. The unhealthy coping mechanisms can lead to addiction and even more severe consequences.
How does this link between body image and substance abuse affect the person? Well, the drugs and alcohol will usually only make the negative feelings and anxiety surrounding the subject worse. While it may feel like it is helping momentarily, what happens when the drugs and alcohol are removed? Those feelings return and often with a vengeance. Depression and anxiety can be exacerbated by substance abuse, making the body image issues worse. In such cases, individual therapy may be needed.
When somebody struggles with their weight, they often spend countless hours plotting ways to lose weight. Using things like drugs and alcohol as means of curbing appetite, and making it so hunger isn’t felt often leads to addiction. This may help them to feel they are losing weight, and they even actually shed some pounds, but it can and generally does lead to even more damaging effects than the weight they view as a problem.
Developing a healthier relationship with food is always the better alternative than using substances to lose weight. Not only is substance abuse an unhealthy coping mechanism, but it can leave someone with long-lasting repercussions. Using drugs and alcohol as a way to lose weight is a bad idea, since, once those few pounds are gone, a person is left with severe substance abuse issues that can affect every aspect of their life. In such cases, detox may be necessary.
Eating disorders are one of the biggest outcomes of having negative body image views. Often, when someone views themselves as being overweight, whether perceived or they actually are, they can talk themselves into drastic and life altering ways of trying to manage their weight. Anorexia and Bulimia are two common eating disorders seen in those who struggle with body image.
The link between body image and substance abuse in these eating disorders can be viewed when the negative body image views that led to the eating disorders then begins to manifest itself in feelings of little to no self-worth, and in turn an individual may turn to the numbing effects that drugs and alcohol tend to produce.
Hiding from the emotional pain caused by a lack of self-worth can lead to addiction and can even lead someone down an even darker path than the body image issues that led them to numb out the feelings with drugs and alcohol. Finding a way to break the link between body image and substance abuse can lead to a happier and healthier life. The cycle doesn’t need to continue. There is help.
The link between body image and substance abuse can be pretty evident. They can both lead to long lasting effects. If you or a loved one struggle with substance abuse and body image issues, there is help. There is a way out of that dark place. Here at Empowered Recovery Center we aim to provide a comfortable and safe place to heal. Our professionals on staff can help guide you through the emotions of seeing yourself in a different light, while ending the substance abuse. Contact us today, and begin your journey of healing.
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