Many people begin using substances for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes, the reason is related to an underlying mental health
concern like depression or anxiety. While initial use of substances
may provide temporary relief, it is important to be careful. If there
is an increase in tolerance (needing more for the same results) and an
increase in frequency of use, the temporary relief is diminished and
the impacts of substances may become hazardous.
One may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop or
reduce use. These withdraw symptoms can often lead people to believe
that they need or should continue to use substances. An example of
this would be use of marijuana to address stress. When a person
decreases or discontinues marijuana (depending on their frequency),
they may begin to experience withdraw symptoms including increased
anxiety, panic attacks, and depression symptoms. Because of these
symptoms, one may return to using and then experience relief. The
relief is due to the person ending their “withdraw period” and not
because the substance is addressing the concern.
It is important to explore the positive impacts of cutting back on
use and learning effective coping skills to manage mental health and
stress. If a person desires to cut back to “responsible use” or stop
completely and is unable to do so, it may be time to seek support or
treatment for substance use or co-occurring disorders (both substance
use and mental health).