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      Comorbidity and Recovery

Comorbidity is 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:

Anxiety/Panic disorder
Bipolar disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Sleep disorders

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 a relapse.

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

Lori Pate
B.A Psychology
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
Meth and Metabolism
Dopamine, Methamphetamines, and You

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THIS SITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your health care professional if you have a specific health concern.


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