Last week, we saw a newspaper article about Frank (not his real name), a man who had lived as a drug addict for many years. Frank had grown up in gangs, had sold drugs, and had gone to jail. After several attempts, he got sober in a treatment program. Then he learned something else: he suffered from chronic depression, too.
While addiction is a primary illness, and not a symptom, other issues often exist alongside it. Depression is a frequent co-occurring diagnosis for people seeking treatment. Anxiety and mood swings are common experiences for the addict. For treatment professionals, it is important to separate substance dependence symptoms from other diagnoses, and to determine if previous diagnoses were made while the patient was in active addiction.
Many patients want to know: “Was I an addict first, or was I depressed?” or “Did my anxiety contribute to my addiction?” Some people in early recovery report that they experienced suicidal thoughts during binges; some attempted suicide. Many report severe, rapid mood swings while they were drinking and/or using. Some patients report an inability to perform basic tasks.
Whether some of these challenges were present before the addiction began, or began at some point later in the cycle of substance dependence, the solution is the same: treatment to arrest the addiction process, combined with continuing evaluation or simultaneous treatment for other disorders. Once the chemicals are removed from the person’s life, proper diagnosis and assistance can be provided for the patient. There are thousands of recovery stories beginning each year, and many of those folks relate a tale of hopelessness before recovery, and happiness once it is obtained.
If you or someone you care about suffers from an addiction, get the help you deserve. We treat substance abuse disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. Call Sobriety Matters at 713-904-4699. There’s a better way to live, and you can have it!