Comorbidity and Recovery
a fancy word that means "More than one thing is going on here, something
else is part of the puzzle".
Many people have comorbidities along with their
addiction to meth or other drugs. Some examples could be:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The list is a long one. These are only a few
examples. About 1 in 5 adults suffer from a mental disorder and many
suffer from more than one at a time.
Women are nearly twice as likely to suffer
from major depression than men. However, men and women are equally
likely to develop bipolar disorder.
While major depression can develop at any
age, the average age at onset is the mid-20s.
With bipolar disorder, which affects
approximately 2.3 million American adults, the average age at onset
for a first manic episode is during the early 20s.
When dealing with
addiction along with a mental disorder at the same time, recovery can be
much more difficult and require more outside help and hard
work for all involved.
Sometimes getting clean
is only the first step in getting well. Many times addicts
have self medicated their mental disorders with meth and other drugs for
years. When they get clean they are left with full blown emotional and
mental issues that have gone untreated for years and are like gaping
wounds now that the drugs are not there to dull the pain. This is not something that will just go away
with time or prayer. It is often the case that this raw
emotional pain is so great, that when left untreated it drives the
recovering addict back to using.
When there are
comorbidities complicating recovery, the recovering addict should
strongly consider medical assistance as well as therapeutic help. Sometimes the proper medication is very, very helpful in controlling the
symptoms of mental disorders. There is NO
SHAME in taking medication. Medications, taken as
prescribed, are not a crutch. They are a valid treatment for a valid
problem. And sometimes they can make the difference between recovery and
For some people, especially those who have been
abused in the past, therapy is extremely helpful in working through the
issues and healing emotionally from the abuse.
If you or your loved one is working on getting
clean and experiencing emotional distress past the first few weeks of
sobriety, I strongly encourage you to look into getting the help you (or
they) need to be WELL. Not just sober, but WELL.
There are many free or
low cost mental health programs all across the country. Mental health has come a long way in being recognized as a health care
need in the last few years. Please don't be afraid to seek out some help
in this area. If you are not sure where to go for help, ask us here on
the board, we will do our best to get you pointed in the right direction
in your area. Mental health can make the difference between clean and
miserable, and clean and happy.
Everyone deserves to be
clean AND HAPPY
University of Texas at Austin
Disclaimer: I am not a
medical doctor and this page was not intended to provide medical advice.
Other articles by Lori Pate:
Triggers to use drugs
The Brain Chemistry of Being a Loved One
Methamphetamines, and You
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