Chicken Or The Egg?


I just finished reading a post on a Recovery Blog. It was about the dispute over Addiction being a disease. Addiction was classified as a disease by the AMA in 1987. What wasn’t really discussed was the role that Mental Illness plays in Addiction. I know first hand that it’s a huge one. Scientists still have not been able to agree which comes first. Is it the Mental Illness that leads to self-medication and addiction? Or is it the theory that Chronic drug/alcohol abuse increases your chances of becoming a victim of assault or trauma. This can cause PTSD, Depression, Eating Disorders, etc. I’m afraid there will be no clear answer in my lifetime. I can only go by personal experience. I can’t deny the statistics though.

61.5 Million Adult Americans experience some form of Mental Illness in a given year.

13.6 Million Adults are considered to have “serious” Mental Illnesses.

  • Serious illnesses are Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Major Depression.
  • 9.2 Million have co-occurring Addiction Disorders
  • 46% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with severe Mental Illness and/or Substance Use Disorders.

The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that 69% of people diagnosed with a Mental Health Disorder at some point in their lives will abuse Alcohol. A staggering 84% will abuse Cocaine.

A Dual Diagnosis is difficult to treat and too many Psychiatrists and Doctors are not trained to do so. People with an Addiction Disorder are twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders. The reverse is also true.

There are also other factors to consider. A Genetic Predisposition is one. If Mental Illness and Addiction is prevalent in your family there is a good chance it could affect you. Then you have Triggers. Certain stressors or trauma can lead to addiction and other Mental Illness. Last but not least is your Brain. Early symptoms of Mental Illness may indicate an increased risk for later drug/alcohol abuse. There are brain scans that can be done that show a specific pattern in Bipolar patients and Mentally Ill patients with Addiction problems.

Suicides are the 2nd leading cause of death for those between the ages of 24-34 and the 4th leading cause for those 35-54.


Here’s what I know. I had symptoms of a Mental Illness from the age of 10/12. I hid in my room and tried to hide it from everyone. My family went through a rough time when I was younger. I don’t think they noticed as long as I was quiet. My brother was fighting everyday, getting suspended from school, eventually expelled, selling drugs from our house, physically starting fights with my father and causing chaos. My mom had a breakdown and was hospitalized. My brother was kicked out of the house at 17. He started smoking pot at the age of 13 and continued until now at age 50. I don’t know when he started drinking he looked 21 at a very early age. I would guess 14/15 and continues to drink now. I don’t know when the gambling started.

My mother has a Schizophrenic sister and a Schizophrenic brother. Her sister does not use drugs or alcohol but is heavily into Religion now. Her brother was addicted to IV drugs mostly and was homeless. He passed this year from AIDS related complications. No one claimed him. He was buried with the rest of society’s unwanted. This angered me. My mom never would’ve allowed it. My mom suffered from Depression but was never really diagnosed. She was also an Alcoholic but hadn’t had alcohol in over 27 years at the time of her death. She has 3 more siblings that are Alcoholics. What is their mental status? Who knows? There’s so many secrets and dysfunction it would take an entire team to figure it out.

My father has severe Anxiety and Social Phobia. He’s never been diagnosed. I’m diagnosing him because he has all the symptoms I have. He self-medicated with Alcohol but has been sober for about 35 years. He still hasn’t fixed his problems he just suffers.

I had several brain scans that showed all the markers of someone with Bipolar Disorder. Supposedly. If you go by the new research. I even had some rare questionable findings that put me on a “lab experiment” list. I refused everything after looking into it further. Maybe some things I don’t want to know.


These statistics are from a “Public Attitudes Survey” on Mental Illness taken in Texas. It’s from 2004 but I compared them to the most recent statistics and there was minimal change. I couldn’t get the PDF for the most recent so I averaged them out. These are surveys done by the CDC and NAMH.

  • 40% surveyed agreed that anyone with a history of mental problems should be excluded from public office.
  • 1 in 3 believe a child should immediately be placed in an alternative setting as soon as they exhibit a Mental Illness in school.
  • More than 50% believe Major Depression is caused by the way you are raised.
  • 1 in 5 believe it’s “God’s Will”.
  • More than 50% believe Major Depression is from people expecting too much from life.
  • 40% believe it’s the lack of will power.

It’s difficult knowing this is how people think. I’m not surprised based on the responses I’ve received from my own community. Will it change? I can only hope so. I do what I can. Some days are difficult for me. When I have trouble finding my words or I’m stuttering, I get tuned out. I can’t make my point if no one will listen. The hardest part is when someone walks away from you while you are talking. It feels like you are invisible or you don’t matter. I then wonder if I ever did. I kept silent for so long maybe I should’ve stayed that way.20160602_173411

About darie73

I have lived with Bipolar Disorder since my early teens. I have lived with Social Anxiety Disorder for even longer. I self-medicated with alcohol for over 20 years, that's how long it took to get a diagnosis. I'm open and honest about my mental health so hopefully one day the system will change. View all posts by darie73

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