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Some people have difficulty coping with life stressors. Individuals without a strong support system may rely on maladaptive and dangerous coping methods, including substance abuse or self-harm. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “It is estimated that in the general public, 2% to 6% engage in self-harm at some point in their lives.” For people in school, “the rates are higher, ranging from 13% to 35%.” Women and young adults are more likely to engage in self-harming behaviors. Painted Desert Recovery uses psychotherapy and other evidence-based treatments to help women recover from substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring issues, including self-harm.
People who engage in self-harming behaviors hurt themselves in response to physical or psychological triggers. Often, non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is used as a coping technique for managing severe emotional distress. According to MedlinePlus, “The injuries may be minor, but sometimes they can be severe … [and they] may leave permanent scars or cause serious health problems.”
Many seemingly innocuous activities can be used to self-harm if they purposely cause physical or emotional pain. Some of the most common types of self-harm include:
People self-harm for a wide range of reasons. The care team’s approach to treatment depends on the type of self-harm occurring and underlying causes. No two people have the same motivations, side effects, or triggers. Clinicians at Painted Desert Recovery use a comprehensive intake assessment to identify the primary factors affecting a person’s mental and physical health, including the cause of self-harming behaviors and potential complications clients may encounter during treatment.
People who engage in NSSI may have underlying trauma and other mental health issues affecting their ability to cope with daily stressors. Self-harm is often used as a maladaptive coping technique to help people function in emotionally challenging situations. According to Current Directions in Psychological Science, “Self-punishment or self-deprecation also may motivate NSSI, with NSSI representing a form of self-directed abuse learned via repeated abuse or criticism by others.” Some people may self-harm for multiple reasons. The underlying cause of the behavior affects client care and long-term recovery.
Anyone can develop self-harming behaviors. However, some common risk factors include:
Some people self-harm without any of the risk factors usually associated with NSSI. Anyone of any age, gender, or socioeconomic status can engage in self-harming behaviors. The clinical team at Painted Desert Recovery helps women identify the root cause of their maladaptive behaviors and replace them with healthy alternatives.
Self-harming has the potential to cause a wide range of health issues due to the various possible methods of self-injury. According to BMJ Clinical Evidence, self-harming “could lead to death by suicide in up to 8% of the people . . . In addition, deliberate self-harm is associated with higher rates of death from non-suicidal causes.”
Some known side effects of NSSI include:
Self-harming may also damage important relationships. People often have difficulty recognizing the severity of their actions, impacting their relationships with loved ones.
People struggling with self-harm often have untreated trauma or other issues affecting their ability to create healthy support systems and coping mechanisms. Treatment programs at Painted Desert Recovery provide clients with the skills to identify and process the triggers of self-harm. Clinicians use personalized care plans and trauma-informed therapy to help people heal, grow, and move forward in their recovery. SUD is treated simultaneously alongside self-harm and other co-occurring issues.
Some of the treatment services at Painted Desert Recovery include:
The care team provides clients with a safe, home-like environment where people can feel comfortable expressing themselves and finding healthier ways to manage stress. People are shown how to replace maladaptive behaviors, like NSSI, with healthier alternatives. For example, people who may have a history of cutting can try using colored markers on their skin to express themselves without harming their bodies. The care team collaborates with clients to discover what positive coping techniques work best for each person.
Most people who self-harm are not attempting to permanently injure themselves or commit suicide. However, acts of self-harm are inherently dangerous and have the potential to increase the risk of severe illness, injury, or death. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “More than 500,000 people present to emergency departments each year with deliberate self-harm or suicidal ideation — both major risk factors for suicide.” Professional mental health treatment provides the best outcomes and reduces the risk of unintentional consequences of self-harm. The care team keeps all sharp objects locked away and accessible only upon request to ensure clients remain safe during treatment.
Treating self-harm involves identifying underlying causes and triggers. The care team at Painted Desert Recovery tailors treatment plans to ensure clients with self-harming tendencies have the support and services they need to heal. Everyone’s recovery journey looks different, and Painted Desert Recovery is here to help. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (844) 540-0353.