Mental Illness and addiction are often present at the same time making either diagnosis difficult. Mental illness can masquerade as addiction and visa versa. In order to make an accurate diagnosis addiction must be addressed first. In the case of panic attacks, for instance, alcohol and drugs can actually bring them on. The brain has many things going on at the same time and when you bring in other chemicals the brain can misfire and when that happens we are not going to feel good.
Unfortunately diagnosing different mental illnesses isn’t easy for the medical community. We don’t often give all the facts such as we don’t say we drink to excess or take drugs. The physician can only go by what we say. We are lucky if we get 15 minutes with a doctor and most often we are handed some kind of pill in the hopes that it may work. It is important to give all the facts to a medical provider and even then we may be given the wrong thing. Most doctors have too many patients to give them more time and some doctors just push pills. It is important to remember that you are the patient and your welfare has to come first so push to get the time you need.
I have been fortunate to have had a great therapist and a doctor that took time with me. When I put the drink and the drug down we were able to get a clear picture and discovered that most of my problems were due to a dysfunctional childhood and the fact that I am an alcoholic. One of my family members always had issues going on in her life and it was only a smart therapist who picked up on the idea that this family member might be bi-polar. It was necessary for her to get away from the drugs to see that yes indeed her behavior was due to up and down emotions that bi-polar disease is known for. It will take time to get medications straight and therapy has been started as well.
It is important to be patient with the process of separating mental illness from addiction. Being honest with the things we are doing and the way we are feeling is the only way to change how we are feeling. Finding the right therapist and the right physician has to be put at the top of the list.