The days of a straight up alcoholic/addict have seemingly come to an end, and the term dual diagnosis, or synonymously co-occurring disorders, is frequently used in recovery circles. So many in the recovery field these days talk of depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder and other mental health diagnoses as the root cause for substance abuse. I think that fundamentally this is true of anyone with an addiction. When working with families of addicts I ask them to look at it this way: Drugs and alcohol are not the problem. Drugs and alcohol are in fact the solution to the problem. For people with an addiction, reality is a very painful place to exist. Poor self worth, failing relationships and work opportunities, criticism from loved ones who don’t understand the nature of addiction all contribute to a disease that already compromises our ability to distinguish the true from the false. The fastest way to find relief from the overwhelming lack of self esteem is to put a chemical into our bodies that alters our perception of reality. And for while it works. So many clients show up at treatment with symptoms of many other mental health disorders, thus a dual diagnosis.
You will rarely find an experienced alcoholic or drug addict that can’t recall what used to be the “good old times.” While one can find some modicum of relief is drugs or alcohol in the beginning, this solution, of course, is only temporary. It brings with it a new layer of consequences that we are not equipped to deal with. Financial ruin, divorce, estrangement between children and parents and near death experiences are but a few. By now, most of us look and act like mental patients. We have no real tools for living. We have no ability to govern our emotional lives and it is entirely apparent to those closest to us. There is hope. So many treatment centers have dual diagnosis programs. With accountability and guidance we can learn to use the the tools of recovery successfully and not only stay sober but develop a life of excellence. In many cases, certainly not all however, the dual diagnosis begins to wane as a natural effect of recovery. If you are looking for treatment for a loved one, give us a call. We will be happy to direct you to good treatment centers in your area.