Co-occurring Disorders and Dispelling the Stigma of Addiction and Mental Illness

“I DON’T KNOW WHICH WAS THE STRANGER, more terrifying moment: the moment when a psychiatrist told me I had a mental illness, or the moment I realized I was an alcoholic, through and through. I remember both moments Clearly: my stomach dropped, the room seemed cold, and I wanted to run for the door. When it came time for me to face facts, I didn’t do it. Not that first time. The fear that accompanied those simple facts—that I have a mental illness, that I am an alcoholic—was so overwhelming that I did what fear told me to do: I hid.” *

The stigma associated with addiction and mental health issues can be devastating to someone who needs help.  It is imperative to begin to recognize these illnesses as severe health conditions.

Mental illness and addiction must be viewed the same as other legitimate medical illnesses, such as diabetes or cancer.

To erase the stigma and allow those suffering to receive treatment without shame, we must all work together.

“So by the time we addicts or alcoholics with mental illness have reached a place of complete defeat by the time we realize that our lives have become unmanageable—we are living under so many layers of shame, deception, denial, and fear that it seems at first impossible to dig ourselves out. We are used to the dark, lonely place where we’ve lived for so long. We’re used to the company of our substance of choice, the comfort of our habitual terror, the pain of our mental illness. These things are more familiar than what the Twelve Steps promise: a life in a community of people who have found a better way to live. To the practicing addict with mental illness, a life up there in the light seems almost as frightening as a life down here in her own private hell.”

Realization Center, an OASAS licensed treatment provider has been helping people with co-occurring disorders for the past 35 years.

“A reasonable amount of stress and a healthy physiology keep us sane and content. When things get out of balance, however, we can become absolutely miserable, and sometimes dangerous to ourselves or others. Medical professionals call this lack of balance a mental health disorder. Like many other disorders, it may require treatment, also like many other disorders, it can be effectively treated in the vast majority of cases.”

Our professional treatment team which includes psychiatrists, clinical social workers, mental health counselors and certified substance abuse counselors help individuals with both addiction and mental illness learn to manage their disorder and learn the skills necessary to successfully function on their road to recovery.

Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps By Marya Hornbacher
Dual Diagnosis: Drug Addiction and Mental Illness By Malinda Miller
Living with Co-Occurring Addiction and Mental Health Disorders: A Handbook By Mark McGovern, Scott Edelstein