NAMI Metro Suburban Blog

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Mental Health and Substance Use - Two Problems, One Recovery


Imagine how it must feel to be labeled a substance abuser. A substance abuser is discriminated against. A substance abuser is called weak, immoral, incapable of succeeding in society, an outcast and a criminal.

Because of the way that substances like street drugs are viewed in our society there is a huge stigma attached to them. They are "criminalized" by a world that simply will not help but would rather put substance abusers in jail and throw away the key!

In a sense the one who has a substance abuse problem is scapegoated by a society that will not rehabilitate but will hate. The justice system is proof of this.

In my own life I've learned that being a drug addict does in fact mean going to jail. It also has taught me that substances like street drugs do not mix with mental illness.

In college I remember vividly doing marijuana laced with PCP. I did not know it was laced with PCP. I began to hallucinate. The hallucinations led to delusions. I believed everyone hated me. There was no room left for love.

When my father picked me up that was an act of love. It foregoes the idea that we should just let addicts and those with mental health conditions deal with things "on their own."

I believe that support is very important for those who have dual diagnosis. Know this. The bigger your support system the better. That means increasing the structure in your daily life and committing to being clean and sober.

Sobriety means a better life. It means a new life. In AA often people work on the twelve steps. Through these steps they become reconnected with loved ones and family. And they get another chance. A new beginning. Perhaps that is what we are all looking for. A new beginning. A way to shine light on the darkness of our pasts.

Through the twelve steps they realize that they are unique people with unique talents. They realize survivor strength and can carry on.

Hate will never outshine love. If someone in your family or someone you know well is struggling with dual diagnosis remember this. Love them. Show them you are compassionate and that the addiction can not be beat by doing it alone.

You can't do it alone. Expanding one's support system is an important part of recovery.

I came to terms with my own sobriety in 2001. I decided that drugs and alcohol could not affect my mental state on the inside. So why do them if they do not affect my inside? I came to this conclusion. Since then I have been clean and sober. In 2018 I have the opportunity to help people who have suffered. The downtrodden. The outcasts. Those who have no house or home. Those who have no money or health insurance. I feel this adds to my education and my own health. Just to know that advocacy is giving a part of myself to another person is a wonderful feeling!

I am ingratiated and happy to be a part of this recovery movement!! Come join us!!!!

Written by Jeffrey Shapiro, CRSS​

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Friday, 20 September 2019