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Avatar universal

addiction and mental illness

i have been thinking about this alot lately, and just wondering if anyone else has similar problems and thoughts... i had a crappy childhood, a miserable teen life and blah..blah..blah... i have been diagnosed with quite a few of mental illness and disorders, blah...blah... blah...anyway my questions are...do all addicts have a type of mental illness/disorder?  when did the illness/disorder start with you?   did you use drugs to mask illness/disorder? or does anyone beleive that addiction actually CAUSED the illness/disorder?  is it possible to have illness/disorder your whole life and not know it until you become an addict and then get clean??  and does mental illness /disorders run hand in hand with addiction?? please only answer if comfortable doing so...this is kind of where i am with my therapy...i hope no one thinks i am being dumb for asking such questions,,, maybe its something i have to work out for myself...thank you all....
14 Responses
Avatar universal
not dumb at all sweety...

listen, i DO have thoughts on this if you want them, but i think i'm too zapped right now to give you anything coherant!! my eyes are quickly closing...

but if you want to talk about this manana, i would be happy to give you my thoughts, k?

be well sweety... and sweet dreams.

Avatar universal
sounds good hun....i'll be here...
Avatar universal
I absolutely believe addiction is the result of self-medication for a brain disorder (I prefer that over mental illness...lol)....I think mostly we take it for depression, anxiety, emotional pain but others may have a different experience. I know I tried 7 antidepressants to no avail after a horrible period in my life and NO HELP.....then I popped a percocet and all was right with the world.....then 5 years later I was up to oxycontin crushed and not depressed anymore.....hell, i couldn't feel anything. You could remove a kidney and I wouldn't feel it. lol......That's just it.....along with the pain, it killed the joy, the excitement of life, the little things....fishing, going to the beach. I was so social before and I became almost agoraphopic.......Too bad we can't all come out of the closet and scream at the top of our lungs....enough is enough.....get us some real mental health parity......mental health problems are as serious as cancer but the stigma is worse than drug addiction.....that's my two cents anyway.
Avatar universal
I can only speak for myself, but yes I suffer from depression, always have but I really didn't know it. I know that sounds stupid but I thought everyone felt like I did. About 10 yrs ago my sister gave me a pill because I had a headache...didn't know what it was but Man did I feel great, no headache and finally no sadness! My sister would give me a couple and at that time they could last me a month...

Fast forward a few yrs....a couple of surgeries and then a painful chronic health issue and now I am an addict. I am addicted NOT dependant. I always took more than prescribed because when I did take the vikes I felt happy and NORMAL (so I thought). I became Little Miss Do Everything...active with my children and all the activites they were involved in, I was on the PTO board and chaired lots of committees in our Church and school. I truly felt normal and I felt good about myself.

That was then, this is now...I am more depressed than ever. I buy my pills from *friends*. Now I am starting to recognize the same symptoms and tendencies in my 18 yr old son and I am scared to death. How can I help him when I can't even help myself? I feel so guilty and horrible because I passed this HORRIBLE gene and dependant issues on to my son. God Please Help him.

I have been going through a lot lately, as we all do, however, because of my depression I feel almost immobilized. I do take wellbutrin and I guess that does help. I don't know.

I am making some major life changing decisions at this time and while logically I feel they will be good decisions for me and I pray mostly for my son...I literally feel so overwhelmed I cannot function. I need help but I feel I have been such a burden to my loved ones (who live 3 hrs away) that I can't possibly talk to them about how I truly feel...I disappoint everyone.

I am sorry about this post. I know I went off topic but it was kind of cathartic in a way. But to answer your original question, YES, I believe that addiction and mental illness do go hand in hand. I have been to a rehab and I was a psych student at one time and that is what I witnessed and also learned. It is a horrible marriage between 2 devastating illnesses that I hope all who suffer will get the relief they deserve.

Great question I am curious about the responses you wil receive.
Avatar universal
I have posted a similar question to this here and did not get much response,so i am thrilled to see it now. i have been in therapy dealing with issues from my failed marrigae of almost 30 years and my ex wifes drug addictions. Working closely with my psychologist i have been trying to answer this question for myself,maybe for frogiveness or closure. YES, mental instability is very much a part of addiction. My ex was popping pills back in 78 when we first met. It grew and grew,3 rehabs on and on. She did have a bad childhood being a air force brat. But always trying to please her parents and being controlled by them. Looking back i do see depression,impulsivity,chronic anger lack of self respect. Delving into this topic deeply with my psyhc the best way he could sum it up was, "seeking pleasure" or "seeking to remove displeasure". He has strongly told me if  i get the chance to steer her towards help i should. Not long ago she came to my home when i was gone, and looked around etc. I did call her on it and this gave me the oppurtunity to call her out tell her she needed help and her actions were not normal.I did get her far enough to admit she wasnt sure but thought i was right and wanted to talk to me about it. We agreed to meet and when the time came she said i read into things, the classic self denial. So yes mental issues,brain chemistry, altered brain chemistry it all plays into the self medicating symptom called addiction. Escape from pain, real or imagined,escape from depression,escape from reality,searching for happiness. It works and works well for awhile, the use, but it only manifests itself deeper and deeper. I think like beach does, lets get on with the mental health help,treating a addiction solely based on abuse and getting clean is great,but it is only a symptom, and treating simply just the symptom, either thru detox, methadone,suboxone,subutex is not the only thing needed. Treat the underlying causes not only the symptoms. So please every last one of you fighting, look into this,look into therapy,get counseling. treat your symptoms yes but don't stop there.  God Bless,  Jim
Avatar universal
i can relate...totally, only difference with me is I AM agoraphobic, used to be outgoing, the life of the party....but now i couldnt be socail if my life depended on it, the real problems is that i want it that way. i suffer depression, sever anxiety, agoraphobia with panic, avoidant disorder/behavoir and also have fibromyalgia...never had any of the above just depression and a touch of anxiety...i am convinced my addiction brought this out in me,i am convinced that alot of addicts suffer a form of maybe "brain damage?", not sure how else to say it, and am convinced more than ever that addiction is a disease that most people associate with willpower, weakness and the attitude of people who beleive its our choice to live and feel this way and their opinion on that wont ever change...... i have no life outside of my home and its fine with me, i have no socail life either again fine with me... i have been through some **** in my life...alot of it...THIS BY FAR THE WORST!!!
Avatar universal
thank you for answering my post. i am curious, are you an addict? or here to learn how to deal with wifes (ex) addiction?is she in any type of counseling now or still in denial?  i am glad you are in therapy, it does help with whatever you need, even if just to have someone from the "outside" looking in to give advice/opinions.  i had some minor mental issues growing up, started using drugs/booze at extremely young age (smoking pot and drinking to get drunk at age 11-12), abused most of anything my whole life...wasnt a true addict until 7 years ago, since starting my quest to be clean, mental ilness is now 10 times worse with new illness/disorders emerging, so thanks for your insight and i hope to get more responses to my post....
Avatar universal
i am so sorry you are having such a hard time...as to your son...how old is he?..what do you mean, is he addicted also??  do you go to any type of therapy/counseling?  maybe you and your son could both go, help to teach him what to watch for when it comes to addiction, ways to deal with lifes stressors,triggers etc...   as far as your depression goes, you had depression before addiction and the "pills" acted in a way an anti-depressant "should" work? i know exactly what you are saying..i have been on just about every anti-depressant in the book and nothing helps like a good old percocet...that my friend is the addiction talking i guess...i too had depression and slight anxiety before the addiction, now that i am clean (sort of, i take suboxone) i am more of a mental mess than i was before the addiction, so i beleive my addiction made it worse, like a type of brain damage??!! and i keep waiting for the old happy go lucky me to come back...but its not happening and i am scared...   keep me posted....and thank you for your input
Avatar universal
Hi sweety....when I read your reply back to me it made me sad because I can feel your pain and fear. I so understand what you say when nothing helps like " a good old percocet ", it's the nature of the 2 diseases. We so desperately want to feel normal, because while in my case I do love the high, it really is the sense of normalcy that keeps me coming back. But as we all know addiction is a double edge sword because what once *helped* us is now killing us.

I too used to be a social butterfly even if it was false (what I mean is with my depression) at least I was OUT THERE. I might not have enjoyed it the way other's did but I was THERE....when I started with the pills not only was I out there but man I was on top of my game! Then slowly after some very hard things in my life occured, I felt myself becoming more and more afraid and instead of being happy and carefree I started to become a recluse and extremely fearfull of everything and everybody.

Over the last 2 yrs or so, my children have seen their mother in a sad, sad situation....me on the couch either in pain (I do have a chronic illness) or depressed and I know that it has affected them deeply because as I said before, I was ALWAYS there for them. And now I'm not... but I would do things if I absolutely positively had to do it and they knew the difference. This is what my son sees and even though he tries to be the tough guy he actually is the more sensitive of my 2 kids. Unfortunately, I believe that he is starting to do drugs...I am recognizing this and I AM cleaning myself up mentally and physically.

I broke up with a toxic BF and right now I am going into contract for a new townhouse that's right down the road from my family (3 hrs away) and I am praying to God that this will help my son. My sister has a way with my son that no one else has and I know with her in our corner we will have a fighting chance.

The reason why I am telling you this is because I want you to believe that there IS hope. I don't know your story but from what I understand this feeling of depression and anxiety is very normal when we stop taking opiates and that it does subside over time. Believe me, I am struggling so hard because I have so much that I need to do and I am having the hardest time even accomplishing the smallest task. But I HAVE to.

How long have you been off the pills and on suboxone? Do you have family or friends nearby? This is why I need to move, I need the support. Do you have support in any way?

I know your fearfull of never being the same as you were before...I have the same fears. But think about it this way---the brain and human psyche has a way of healing itself that is remarkable, but we have to want to heal...and I know you do, so I know you can do it. Even if you have to force yourself to do something. Even something little is better than nothing at all...

Please keep me posted on how you're doing...something in you has struck a chord in me and I really care about how you are. Your friend, E

Avatar universal
No i am not a addict. ive been visiting theses sites for 5 years. it helped me when my divorce happened and my ex came to me for help 4 years ago. i got her into treatment and we reconciled as a family for 3 years. she started suboxone and is still on it going on 4 years in sept. she left in jan found a diff man, got engaged in march and was married a week ago. she is so impulsive, in early june she came to tell me of her marriage and at the same time she said she wasnt sure, then the next day she was! i think it is the sub talking more than anything. as for me it has been a struggle with kids and all, and my therapy has helped alot. in fact tonite i have a date for the first time since our last split,i finally think im ready for it. here to find out after we met she is a RN, and also licensed for drug and alcohol counseling, weird huh?,or is that god working his way?......Jim
Avatar universal
Good luck tonight...you deserve it.
239164 tn?1207266607
I read your post yesterday and, not being any kind of expert on mental illness, didn't really know if I should post a response.  I have thought about it and will tell you my experience with it.  I think many addicts become addicts because they are self-medicating.  I think, with pills, it almost always starts out innocently and with legitimate reason.  I don't think anyone sets out with the intent of becoming an addict.  This is how I became addicted (in a very, very short version:)

I was taking Lortab, as prescribed, for legitimate pain.  I HATED the things.  I only took them if I had to, when the pain was so bad I couldn't stand it anymore.  A bottle of 30 would last me three months.  Then my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and give 4 - 6 months to live.  I had just moved halfway across the U.S. and started a new job.  I couldn't go home.  I cried for days.  I was suffering from "situational" depression, in a big way.  During this time, I took a pill (I hadn't taken one in a few months) and found that the effect of the pill was different than before.  It gave me a sense of calm and well-being that I hadn't had in the last week (since learning about my Dad.)  So, I started taking them every 4-6 hours, as prescribed.  But not for physical pain.  For emotional pain.  That, of course, led to tolerance and increases in doses.  That of course led to lies for early refills, doctor shopping, etc.  We all know that ride.  The bottom line is, 11 years later, here I am, still addicted.  I have been through detox 3 times now, and am about to quit taking them again.  Thank God I was able to control the amount this time.  

I guess to answer your question, I believe there is some element of mental illness present in all addicts.  If we didn't suffer from a mental illness prior to the addiction, we certainly do now.  I know that is not any kind of clinical answer, but it is my story, and probably similar to a lot of other people's stories.  

Avatar universal
I have abused pills (any drug actually) for 28 years, also alcoholic for a good 5 or 6 years...i have done just about every drug under the sun...started drinking and smoking pot at 11 or 12, i have been addicted to opiates for 7 years, i was on methadone (illegally) from 10/06-5/07, i have been on suboxone since end of may, and it sucks!!! but i have to keep telling myself "i am not too physically ill" i am functioning, barely and i havent used and abused  in 10 weeks, so the suboxone must be working to a point, but the anxiety,panic, feeling of being unloved, uslessness and a burden to all just doesnt seem to go away, i am now taking yet ANOTHER  antidepressant (80 mg of prozac wasnt cutting it) also xanax and klonipin , which i hate...but told the doc i would give it an honest try this time to see if i get some releif from them, yeah its releif alright, i am a walking zombie and hate every minute of it, unless i could sleep all day...i have a great husband (who is stuck in the same predicament) but takes methadone as he has ,legitimate neck and back problems, i have 3 wonderful boys, ages 22 (who is mentally handicapped), 10 and 8 and my grandparents are close by and help financially when we need it, rest of family is GONE, live elsewhere, so the only support we have is each other and our therapy, husbands parents live less than 10 miles away, but they dont care about us or their grandchildren, which is fine with me they drink too much and i dont want my boys around it... and we have no friends because all of our friends "used" so we sent them packing... well after my long wine session, there ya go, my life all rolled up into a paragraph or 2. isnt it awful what we are willing to do to ourselves in order to try and achieve acceptance and happiness?   all this addiction has gotten me is a bag full of mental illnesses with no place to put it...i have severe anxiety, agoraphobia with panic disorder, socail anxiety, avoidant behavoir/disorder and possible fibromyalgia, which i never had before the addiction (only little depression and anxiety)  so enough of me and all my baggage..how old are your kids? are you a single mom? when did you start pills and for how long? are you clean now and if so for how long? how did you get clean? are you on any medications now? does anything in particular help you with withdrawals and anxiety?thanks for listening and responding... (i have green eyes too)   -Amy
Avatar universal
does anyone want to add to my thread? the more the merrier....i would really appreciate it
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