The Addictive Nature Of Self Injury

man holding light walking inside tunnel
man holding light walking inside tunnel
Photo by: Will Stewart/Unsplash

*Trigger Warning*

Self-injury is when someone does something to deliberately hurt themselves, and it can be done in many different ways. But is it addictive?

Short answer: Kind of, but not really.

Self-injury is when someone harms themselves, but does not intend for death to be the result. This is known as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). 

While the act of self-injury in it itself has many addictive and habit-forming patterns. It’s not really an addiction in the sense drug abuse is. There is some evidence that endogenous opioids can be released (SOURCE) making the pain pleasurable and making the person less sensitive to pain.

But self-injury doesn’t tend to be about chasing a “high”. It is a bad coping mechanism or a symptom of a larger issue. People form a crutch on it, it becomes a habit to do it, whether that’s once a day or when they feel a certain way. People rely on it. 

It has become a habit. People get used to doing it. And breaking a habit is hard. No matter what it is. 

It mirrors substance addiction. People can crave it, or be triggered into doing it, or miss the feeling or have their life affected as a result of not doing it such as struggling to sleep. 

And like any addiction, the first step is speaking up and telling someone. To pull themselves out of the cycle of self-injury. This is the first step to recovery. 

It’s important for people going through this, that they are supported and not judged. Anything can set someone backwards. 

While it isn’t technically a chemical addiction, it’s very serious and has addictive qualities to it.

Overall, it is important to remember that there is always a solution and that you do not have to suffer in silence. Seek help and you will find the right path to recovery. 

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