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The Truth about Your Teen's Self-Injury

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) can be rather difficult and complex to understand for those who do not practice it. NSSI, also commonly known as self-harm or self-injury, is a concept that many people have a hard time comprehending because the intention to hurt themselves without dying seems aberrant. The main question that is typically pondered upon is what is their motive behind doing that? There is no across the board answer for why a teenager may do this to themselves because every case is different. The general consensus is that when a teenager hurts themselves, there     are underlying issues that cause them to want to injure themselves. Molestation, violence, rejection, drug and alcohol addiction, and other sources of abuse and trauma that people keep secret about seem to be the most prevalent causes of self-harm. What motivates a teenager to cut, hit, mutilate, scratch, burn, insert objects, or pull out the hair on their bodies is to give them relief from their pain. They have found it impossible to cope with the torment they feel and have found that when they hurt themselves, they can better control the feelings that upset them. Through disassociation from their emotional pain, a teenager can act like things are better than what they really are. Endorphins are released when self-injury occurs which is why teens get a quick sense of relief. The endorphins that are released give a natural high that mimics the effects of morphine. Teens often say they get a rush, or they felt a high when they were self-harming because they literally are. This natural high is another reason that explains why teens may keep coming back for more self-injury and temporarily takes away the feelings that directly relate to their issues.  
  • Punish themselves due to self-hatred.
  • Curtail sadness and loneliness.
  • Pacify anger, anxiety, or depression.
  • Give a cry out for help.
  • Demonstrate their distress.
  • Feel something when they are numb.
  • Alleviate their pain.
  The telltale warning signs of self-injury may not be become apparent right away although with a little knowledge a parent may discover this is happening with their teen before they walk into the bathroom and see their teen bleeding to death or finding them so injured that they need hospitalization. Watch for unexplained cuts, bruises, scratches, mood changes, relationship changes, depression, anxiety, and inquire about what you have found. When you think that something is wrong, take the initiative to check out your intuitions. They may believe that they are only harming themselves but if something goes awry, you may be saving their life.

Stonewater leads the way with progressive, evidence-based programming to most effectively treat each individual adolescent while focusing on the uniqueness of each client. Healing the mind, the body, and the spirit as one in the same can make the biggest difference in staying sober.

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