As an adult it was extremely difficult to deal with the fact that I was using self-harm to cope. When my cutting behavior moved to burning my therapist became alarmed and between him, my group therapist and my psychiatrist they ended up putting me on Naltrexone. I had my doubts. I did a lot of reading about it on the internet.
Self-harm did a lot of things for me.
To release the emotions when the have built up so much that they are overwhelming
To feel when I’m numb
To bring myself back when I’m feeling detached
To punish myself
Because it’s become addictive
I could see how naltrexone which would squash the endorphine high would work to stop the addictive quality of my cutting and even more so the new burning behavior but I couldn’t see how it was going to work against the other behaviors. Then something began to happen, I really wanted to stop. My antidepressants were starting to work and I was ashamed of the scars across my thighs. I was even more ashamed of my burns, that I lied about to everyone except my therapists because they were on my arm and people could see them.
There were fewer and fewer times that I felt triggered. I did get triggered once just a couple weeks ago in group when a girl in group described intentionally burning herself. It was like holding a needle in front of a heroin addict. It took me two days of sitting on my hands to not self-harm but I kept myself from doing it. I’ve been clean since Easter and I hope to keep it up.
I do think that the naltrexone helps. I used to have the urges much more often, it would have been impossible to sit on the anxiety all the time. Instead I only need to sit on it now and then. Now only if the scars would heal…
There are studies I’ve read on the internet about using naltrexone with children with autism with self injurious behaviour but I couldn’t find any studies done with teenagers or adults who self-harm. Are there any researchers out there looking for a study to do? There are so many people who self harm, it’s such a problem of our time but it seems like there aren’t a lot of people looking for a way to stop the behavior.