Skip to main content Skip to bottom nav

Why is self-harm so addictive?

147 Answers
Last Updated: 07/26/2019 at 5:31am
★ This question about Self-Harm was starred by a moderator on 5/12/2016.
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Tracy-Kate Teleke, M.A., LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

I assist adults and couples in CA experiencing relationship challenges and interpersonal struggles including anxiety, depression, and a myriad of other life challenges.

Top Rated Answers
November 4th, 2014 6:26pm
This is more of a scientific answer... when you are injured, you brain releases a bunch of dopamine (Happiness hormone) to compensate for the pain. It becomes like a distraction from the mental pain that a self harmer goes through, and therefore a crutch. A fall back system that they can easily lean on when they are not feeling happy and need an instant dopamine boost. Like anything though, it wears off and then you're just left with a bunch of nasty scars. It's a slippery slope, if it's not too late for you get help immediately. I can't express this enough.
November 10th, 2014 2:52am
Speaking from personal experience, I feel as though self-harm is especially addictive because we become so accustomed to feeling something other than the emotional or psychological pain we have been experiencing. I faced depression for 7 years and I used to self-harm because I wanted to experience anything but the emotional trauma. Even though it was very addictive, I also tried my best to stop and have managed to do so for almost 3 years now! :)
November 8th, 2014 11:37pm
Generally it is not the action itself that is addictive, what is addictive is the feeling of relief that comes with it.
December 31st, 2015 11:40pm
***possible trigger warning*** Self harm releases endorphins just like any other time you feel pain. These hormones are natural opiates and work to ease the pain. Opium is an addictive drug that functions very similarly to endorphins. I have experience with self harm addiction. You don't need to be hooked on a drug to have an addiction. I sometimes cut just to cut, even if nothing bad has happened- that's the addiction. My body is craving the endorphins.
November 1st, 2014 1:49pm
It releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel better. The next time you feel bad, your brain remembers how it felt and craves those same endorphins.
November 11th, 2014 11:17am
everyone deals with stress and upset in many different ways, some do drugs, some smoke, some exercise and some self harm, people who self harm want to 'punish' themselves and think they are a bad person. Some do it because it takes the pain away from where it hurts and makes them concentrate on something else.. and some people deal with it in this way.. Think of your emotions like a bottle of water, the fuller it gets the more the lid wants to pop off, if you cut it the water leaks out and its not struggling.. some people think of it like this, everyones different. try finding new ways to cope with stress. keep strong
November 7th, 2014 10:50am
By deliberately hurting their bodies, people often say they can change their state of mind so that they can cope better with ‘other’ pain they are feeling. They may be using physical pain as a way of distracting themselves from emotional pain. Others are conscious of a sense of release. For some, especially those who feel emotionally scarred, it may be a way to ‘wake up’ in situations where they are so numb they can’t feel anything. Overall, self-harm is a way of dealing with intense emotional pain. Self-harm has a huge impact on the day-to-day life of those who do
November 14th, 2014 3:35am
Self-harm, cutting, burning, ect, is a way many people find to have instant gratification. It lets you feel a physical pain so you won't have to feel the more agonizing emotional pain.
January 30th, 2016 8:18am
It gives control. Mental pain hurts more than physical pain, so we cut so the pain is anywhere but our minds.
February 11th, 2016 7:33am
Typically, the pain momentarily distracts people from other problems. Take my advice, throw away the razors and lighters and just get a rubber band. And possibly some cheesecake. That and a therapist.
November 3rd, 2014 8:13pm
One theory is that, as with any other pain, the body responds to the pain induced by the self harm by releasing a rush of its natural pain-killing ‘feel good’ hormones, endorphins. This together with the powerful symbolic meanings can lead to a very addictive habit.
April 10th, 2018 11:22pm
it's like a drug. it helps you not feel something, and the thing you crave about it is "the numbing of the thing you don't want to feel".
September 14th, 2014 12:19am
Self-harm is addicted because of the immediate sense of relief it provides to someone who does it. When a person is in the mindset of wanting to self-harm, there is a high level of stress, anxiety, or depression; much the same way that someone who smokes cigarettes smokes and feels instant relief, someone who injures themselves feels an immediate sense of relief. This is instant, and the next time the feelings arise the person knows what worked last time, and they go back to it.
October 25th, 2014 1:31pm
It can be addictive in that sence that one can controle ones pain on the outside instead of just hurting on the inside.
October 23rd, 2014 8:44pm
I'm not sure... I have the same problem... but.. idk I've tried to stop so many times and it never works
November 19th, 2014 8:26pm
Self harm is addictive because it is like a way out of pain. When someone self harms they feel a great wave of relief and the like the feeling, they love it. Its like a drug to them. The same way that people take drugs. Because they like the feeling. For people that self harm they feel like their way of releasing anger is thr gh pain. Because the ohysucal pain takes away their emotional pain.
April 12th, 2015 3:12am
It seems to be so addictive because in the moment that you do so it seems like everything else is little and you can just focus on that for the time. It also feels like you are finally doing something that you deserve and thinking back that is really sad because you don't deserve that, you deserve so much more and to be happy.
December 16th, 2015 3:39pm
I began self-harming when I was first bullied six years ago. During teens, when others try to bring you down in ways that are horrendous such as bullying, you are prone to feel worthless. Once you begin harming yourself, you reach a mental saturation where you see no way out of it. You have to keep doing it. Through pain, you feel that your innerself heals. Instead, it's a temporary refuge from life reality. This addiction can be cured if treated sooner than later. Therapies and sessions can help people suffering from self harm issues. I am on my way to heal myself, too. :)
September 21st, 2014 3:20pm
It gives you a sense of control over what is happened. Control that you can not usually receive throughout life.
November 3rd, 2014 2:58am
From personal experiences, I believe self-harm is a way of releasing all of the stored anger and pain through wounds. Finding someone to talk to about your concerns can be just as helpful!
January 30th, 2016 11:37pm
Because it releases endorphins, that make you feel somewhat better at the moment
January 22nd, 2016 10:20pm
Because the twisted chemical mess your brain is in makes it seem like what you're doing truly helps. Self-harm is usually used to gain temporary relief of some kind. When it seems to "work" for the first time, taking the pressure of your mind off the actual issue, it gets normalized by your brain; the action leading to a seemingly positive result is encouraged. You are not at fault for this, you never are. It is your brain not being able to differ between unhealthy and healthy coping. You have the power to take that differenciating into your own hands.
January 21st, 2016 1:51am
I think the fact is, people do it because they feel as if they deserve it. Or everyone is against them.
February 5th, 2016 6:50am
It's a coping mechanism, and a form of control that become ingrained behaviour over time. Some people play with their hair for comfort, others self harm.
January 31st, 2016 3:48pm
It is a type of sublimation that substitutes emotional pain for the physical. When someone is experiencing hardships or stress it can be a sort of relief to self harm, it is a temporary fix, but the problem won't go away until you find a way to deal with your problems rather than substituting.
September 17th, 2014 7:44am
it is addictive because when you start doing it you feel like that is the only way to make it better
October 13th, 2014 8:51pm
Self-harm is very addictive being of the endorphins being released when a person cut's themselves, therefore they want too carry on which this happy feeling and as a result, cut more.
October 27th, 2014 4:13pm
Physically, self harm produces hormones called endorphin which causes a high. This addiction can also be formed psychologically by forming a dependency on the release it causes.
December 17th, 2015 6:30am
when we became so sad and when we didn't find solution of our problems then people start self harming
January 28th, 2016 5:45am
Once you find something that gives you that temporary relief or of feeling it becomes a comfort. Bye.