NEARLY HALF OF BRITS ‘SELF-MEDICATE’ THEIR MENTAL HEALTH

  • ONE IN FIVE CURRENTLY RELY ON DRUGS AND ALCOHOL TO COPE WITH ISSUES
  • MANY USE SELF-MEDICATION TO FEEL IN CONTROL BUT ARE TAKING BEHAVIOUR TO EXTREMES
  • OTHERS FEEL THEY CAN’T TALK TO ANYONE ABOUT ISSUES

More than 24 million Britons self-medicate their mental health symptoms, including using illegal drugs or alcohol to cope1.

The new study by LifeSearch demonstrates the scale of the issue for the first time, showing that nearly half (45%) use coping mechanisms to ‘self-medicate’ for mental health issues, and six in 10 (60%) have done so in the past.

For one in five (21%) this self-medication comes in the form of drink, over the counter or even illegal drugs, while others are using gambling, sex, food or spending to alleviate chronic mental health symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia or even depression2.

Looking at the triggers behind this behaviour, one in three (34%) use these coping mechanisms to get a sense of control over their mental health and one in five (21%) self-medicate because they don’t feel like they can talk to anyone about their issues.

SELF-MEDICATING & MENTAL HEALTH STATS:

  • One in eight (12%) don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about it
  • Only two in five (42%) talk to their partner about it
  • Half of self-medicators have taken their behaviour to the extreme
  • 38% use exercise to help maintain their mental wellbeing, but one in 10 (11%) exercise to excess
  • In women, almost one in three (31%) currently use over or under eating to cope with mental health issues, making it the most common form of self-medication
COPING MECHANISM MALE FEMALE
Alcohol 37% 40%
OTC medication 23% 26%
Illegal drugs 18% 18%
Over-exercising 26% 29%
Gambling 20% 17%
Gaming 27% 29%
Sex 31% 31%
Shopping / spending 31% 53%
Over / under eating 33% 61%