Self Injury Addiction

PRESS RELEASE: 9/1/16 – TITLE: Self Injury Addiction
Contact: Dr. Rotchford, OPAS Clinic
Email: jkrotchford@gmail.com
Self-Injury Addiction by Dr. Rotchford

Self-injury, commonly referred to as "cutting," is claimed by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be at "epidemic" proportions among teenagers in the United States. Psychiatrists and counselors claim that the self-injury disorder is “difficult to treat.” Among some school administrators and healthcare professionals the disorder is viewed as a deviant behavior to be treated with counseling. 

The prevalence of lifetime self-harming behavior in the general population is
estimated in the range of 2.2% to 6%. In samples of students, the rates are
estimated to range from 13% to 35%.

J. Kimber Rotchford, M.D., a specialist in addiction disorders and pain management, questions the diagnosis of the condition and the treatments applied to self-injury cases. According to Dr. Rotchford, the behavior of "cutters" manifests the classic symptoms of addiction and should be treated accordingly. 

"Self-inflicted pain experienced by "cutters" is a variant of an opioid use disorder," according to Dr. Rotchford. "The cutter seeks a 'high' from self-injury," Dr. Rotchford claims, "just as a heroin addict seeks a 'high' from an opioid."

Based on his thirty-five years experience in the diagnosis and treatment of addictions, Dr. Rotchford urges medical professionals, counselors, and school administrators to implement treatment programs based on addiction therapies and supported by effective medications to help cutters overcome their self-injury and return to a healthy life.

"Cutters can be prescribed medications used to treat patients with opioid abuse disorders," claims Dr. Rotchford, "and I would expect successful outcomes in cutters as with addicts."

Self-harm may be most often related to trauma exposure in childhood. Studies have found that individuals who engage in self-harm report unusually high rates of histories of childhood sexual abuse, childhood physical abuse, emotional neglect, prolonged separation from caregivers. In one sample of individuals who self-harmed, 93% reported a
history of childhood sexual abuse.

Self-harmers have more frequent and more negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, and aggressiveness. Links between self-harm and dissociation, low emotional expressivity, and low self-esteem have also been found.

To help treat those suffering from self-injury disorders, Dr. Rotchford urges that clinical trials be conducted combining medications and behavioral support similar to what is
used for opioid use disorders. According to Dr. Rotchford, "Through a combined medical and behavioral approach positive outcomes can be reasonably expected, particularly when comorbid conditions are effectively addressed."

The NIH study by Byul Nim Kim, "Optimal Implementation of Intervention to Control the Self-harm Epidemic" documents the epidemic spread of cutting and other forms of self-harm in Osong Public Health Research Perspective.


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