Are Mental Health Disorders as Bad as Substance Abuse.

Posted by dfb @dfb, Oct 12, 2023

When I went into the hospital at 17 with substance abuse problems (then they just called me and alcoholic and drug addict) I was hoping they would find that I had a mental health problem.

After all I can't do anything about a mental health problem, abusing drugs and alcohol, that was my fault.

They did not find that I had a mental health problem. I had a drug and alcohol problem, correctly referred to as a substance abuse problem today.

Surprisingly I received tremendous support from everyone one as I began my life anew, clean and sober.

About fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. No surprise to any of you the support was not so easy to find, even amongst my family members.

Drugs were easy to get. counseling not so easy and very expensive.

Three and a half months ago I went to my doctors and told them I believed my medication was making me sick. I was met with incredulity. They didn't want to believe me. Fortunately I had the research to support my position and to their credit they hesitatingly agreed to help.

All of my meds will be gone by the end of the year. I am down from 14 to 4 or 5, depending on how you count them. The remaining drugs have been reduced by two thirds. I feel the best I have in decades.

Other than the increasingly supportive help from my three doctors, I have received nothing but skepticism from almost everyone, (separate from this board) who knows me. Especially my family.

I am lucky to have the support I have.

I find it odd that mental health in general and the discussion of possible problems created by the medication is such a verboten subject.

Both issue supposedly stem from the imbalances in the brain of the suffers.

Both destroy lives.
Both cost incalculable amounts of money.
Both have medication the suffers should not take.
Both have the same treatment plans to start with:

Medications if needed.
Lifestyle Changes.
Stress Reduction

The big difference is medications are seldom prescribed long term for individuals suffering from a substance abuse disorder. In fact they are discouraged.

Medication is routinely given for long term treatment of mental health disorders, with further mediations given for the side effects. Routinely the other components of substance abuse treatment are ignored in mental health treatment

I believe there is a difference between mental health disorders and diseases effecting the brain, though where the line is drawn is changing.

Further this is my opinion. I am not a doctor. I'm just a guy who has a fair bit of experience with both of these disorders and their treatment.

Take care of yourself. Companies make money money selling drugs. The only one to benefit from lifestyle changes is you.

Be well, hope everyone who suffers finds their path to peace.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Mental Health Support Group.

@dfb interesting topic for sure.
All I can think of is the emotion FEAR.
An addict can be viewed as a person who has made a choice to be mentally unstable. Because it is a choice, another person can walk away from an addict thinking, that won’t happen to
me! I will never choose to live that way.

A person with a mental illness can be scary to people in their own family. They may be thinking about their own health, and what if that happens to me type of catastrophing. If it happened to Uncle, could it happen to me! They put their head in the sand!

Mental illness is so hard. I’m bipolar, and have generalized anxiety disorder.
I was married 17 years to a man who has Dissociated Identity Disorder aka Multiple Personalities. That poor guy has had a horrible life!

Life throws us curve balls…


I say this with care for you, and hope you don't take it wrong, but what difference does it make, whether it is addiciton or other mental health problems? It is all painful and very difficult to live a "normal" life with. In my experience, I lived in a family of six, including parents, and four of them are alcoholics, two of those were drug addicted. Two of the six have had mental health diagnoses, including me. To me, it is all Mental Health. It is life altering, no matter what the cause. The bottom line is that, no matter what the cause, whether there are differences in addition and mental health, people inflicted with these problems all need support, love and understanding from Healthcare, and from the people around them. As I implied and said before, it is a difficult and very painful life, and without the support you need, it may be impossible to survive it. I am very empathetic to what you have gone through, and are going through, and I wish you abounding successes. It appears that you have conquered, and are conquering your problems and kudos to you for that, but does it matter whether it is addiction or mental health, or both? In my mind, NO. Just KUDOS TO YOU!


Thank you for the kind words. I must not have been clear in my post.

I agree with you completely.

Perhaps the Mayo Clinic could start a Twelve Step program for Mental Health, similar to this board but in the community. I believe people heal each other in a way medication can not. What is needed is the frame work.

I believe that over time environment becomes biology.

I still use the Steps and Priciples of A.A. everyday. I would not have survived without Alcholics Anonomous and the the loving support I received in those meetings. I am sixty and I have been clean and sober (not counting psych meds) for a total of forty years.

Though I no longer attend meetings the base of how to live a mentally and physically healthy life all started there.

I hope you and everyone you love find the peace and joy you deserve.

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