Dual Diagnosis

The exact cause/or causes of many psychiatric illnesses, such as depression, anxiety or bi-polar disorder are not known for sure. Research has developed theories which include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Chemical imbalance
  • Stress
  • Gender
  • Prolonged illness
  • Reaction to certain medications

We have a lot to learn about exact causes, but what we know for sure is that if you are a person struggling with any of these emotional disorders you are facing many challenges and pain. Very often these disorders begin in puberty and are not diagnosed for long periods of time. Concerns about social stigma affect people of all ages, and often causes a reluctance or failure to seek help. As a result, they face multiple, life altering consequences such as:

  • Emotional pain
  • Negative social consequences feeling ‘different’
  • Isolation
  • Damage to self esteem
  • Failure to develop coping skills
  • Shutting down
  • Rejection
  • Barriers to academic success
  • Acting out, arrests, accidents and more.

When in pain, human nature drives us to try and find a way to make the hurt go away. For many people diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder it is only a matter of time before they find that their temporary relief lies in drugs or alcohol. Following their logic, if a little bit is good, a lot is a whole lot better. And so begins the pattern of destructive self-medicating behaviors, and a descent into addiction. In this negative cycle of self-medicating, people find that their symptoms from mental illness appear to be gone. In reality the disease is not cured, only masked. For example, a depressed person thinks that some alcohol and cocaine makes them feel they have more energy and are suddenly funny. Now they are going out to bars, making friends, and building up a tolerance to drugs and alcohol. They need more cocaine and alcohol to get the same effects. In time, without intervention, the person will need more and more drugs and alcohol to mask the effects of their underlying mental illness. Now they’re dealing with two co-occurring problems instead of one. In reality many of these people have just started down a path that could destroy their lives and the lives of those who love them. The goal is to help these people into recovery treating both the mental illness and the addiction simultaneously.

People with a psychiatric illness who now have a drug and alcohol problem face some issues that other people in recovery do not. Bi-polar, depressions, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders are treatable, but need to have professional intervention.

Finding a good psychiatrist who understands addiction is essential for recovery. I believe strongly in the AA program and think it can save and does save many lives. But, and this is a big but, some people in AA might not understand your individual situation and may encourage AA members not to take any medications. This can be life threatening for people who must be on their medications to progress in a healthy manner, and who also need to be in AA.

Therefore I strongly urge you to find a therapist that you like, trust and can build a professional relationship with to help you through at least the early stages of your recovery. Whether a hospital or outpatient setting you’ll benefit from a safe place. Safe also means a place where you are comfortable to be open and honest and will provide you support and encouragement in early recovery. It is vital that you realize you can do this. You CAN be sober and on your meds AND you can be happy, have a normal life, a job, a spouse, and anything else you dream of if you have a supportive team and you are willing to work for it. “One day at a time”.

For confidential help and information, please contact me today at (973)359.0662 or Email: info@bpaolo.com