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Ironman7

Addiction and mental illness. Which one came first for you?

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I had suicidal ideation as early as 5 years old. When I hit puberty all hell broke loose. Violent mood swings, deep depression and cutting. Then when I was sixteen I discovered alcohol and marijuana......the beginning of my self medication. I'm now 40 and as I write this I don't even know how many meds I take. At least 10. I'm clean anyway, but my mind has paid an enormous price! 

              I started taking prozac, the first ssri, when I was 17 and the results were miraculous! Unfortunately I already had a taste of drugs and booze. The Summer after I graduated high school I tried my first hard narcotic, cocaine. That first line of coke started a rollercoaster ride I couldn't get off fo 20 years. In those 20 years I've been on and off and back on more meds than I can remember and I've at least tried LITERALLY any drug of abuse you guys can think of. Go ahead try to stump me! Lol. Anyway, it all ended with me coming very close to suicide. Instead I went to a dual diagnosis inpatient detox, then further treatment. Now I'm in a residential program with a bunch of other dope feinds. I take a metric fuckton of medication but it's working. What's your story?

Edited by Ironman7
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I was actually diagnosed with bipolar, bpd, and anxiety around the same time that I started drinking regularly (16). The drinking continually got worse and by the time I was 21, I was a full blown alcoholic. I was also a little too fond of cocaine for a couple months. And I'm still very fond of marijuana. I've been sober for almost 4 years. I think the excessive alcohol and drugs probably stemmed from trying to self medicate. I "didn't want to feel anything". But that was no way to live and I'm so much happier and stable now. Drugs and alcohol made my mental illnesses sooo much worse.

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That's great you were able to put down the booze and hard drugs. Do you still smoke? We just passed legislation legalizing recreational use here in MA.

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I was diagnosed at around 12 or 13 with Conduct Disorder which later developed into AsPD, so as you can imagine I'm no stranger to drink or drugs. Had a pretty heavy coke habit for a few years, then got into opiates of all descriptions. I've quit the drugs full stop, even the recreational ones, but I still drink pretty heavily. My medication was a big help in quitting the recreational stuff as it just stopped it from working anymore. So yeah, in answer to your question I was dx'd before I started on the slippery slope of addiction.

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Thank you for your input Hitcher. Cocaine is one hell of a bitch to quit. Once you do a little, you need more 10 minutes later, and again 10 minutes later into infinity until you're broke. Opiates on the other hand are a whole different beast. Coke is a psychological addiction and don't get me wrong, it's bad, but opiate addiction its absolute fucking misery! Opiates, especially when you eventually start using heroin intravenously, have the strongest physical addiction of any drug. The suffering during withdrawal cannot be explained in words, it hurts so bad physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The fact that we're off that shit is a miracle Hitcher!!

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I started having severe bouts of depression by age 7, which I couldn't tell anyone about because I didn't know what depression was. I was always high-strung and started exhibiting clinical anxiety around the same time as the depression. Started using heroin after my fiance died some years back. Started out snorting, graduated to IV. Part of me wishes I had never found out how good opiates feel because I know I will always always want them, and part of me doesn't care as long as I have money and a dealer. I'm an episodic user, I go on random binges and then I stop because I run out of money. I wouldn't stop at all if it weren't for going broke.

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They grew up together mostly, but my MI had a 5 year head start (at age 10). 

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... ^ unless, of course, the drug use triggers the crazy. See: Meth psychosis, as an example.

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IGreat responses!! I totally relate to you guys. SixteenShells, I hear you loud and clear! I started with 5mg percs. They made my hungover, miserable work days tolerable. Then when Oxycontin hit the market, and the streets, it was a wrap! $80 for an 80mg oxy. I eventually developed a 3-5 pill a day habit. My life became totally unmanageable. Eventually the Federal government outlawed Oxytocin and pulled it off the market and it was immediately replaced with very high quality, potent heroin from Afghanistan. I started using that shit IV. That first injection opened doors I wouldn't be able to close for almost twenty years. Now that I'm clean. My mental illness is right there screaming in my head and I'm not afraid to ask for help.

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I'll agree drugs can unseat latent mental illness.In order to take enough amphetamine to go psycotic I would think there is already something mental going on. I think most drug abuse presents as a symptom of one of any number of conditions or illnesses.

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Mental illness I think came first. It started with a need to quell this aching I had for happiness. I started with alcohol and decided it wasn't for me, moved onto hydrocodone. Got a script for oxycodone, which was taken away from when I tested positive for cocaine, so I switched to heroin. Years later, my life is ruined and I'm still craving dope, even though I'm not dependent anymore. I still use. I always will. It'll never be okay again.

 

EDIT: When I say aching for happiness I mean my moods were swinging from mania to the deepest kind of depression. I can remember crying into my best friend's arms for over an hour and there was literally nothing to trigger it. That's about the time I started using.

Edited by La La LOLocaust
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Most of us addicts, including myself, believe the "disease" was always present. It isn't the drugs that turn someone into an addict. It's our reaction to the drugs once we use them. Using drugs wasn't my problem. Using drugs was my solution............to everything!! Getting drunk or high was the only way to stop the constant misery. Always restless, irritable and discontent to the point of acting out in dangerous ways, sometimes ending with me in hand cuffs. It's so much easier to just take a drink, do a shot, hit that pipe, etc, knowing the ease and comfort that will immediately follow. At some point however, the drugs stop working. I got to a point where I could not go on living either with OR without drugs. I seriously considered suicide, to the point of writing several notes. I just couldn't do it though. I'm a selfish ,self centered prick when I'm using but I couldn't go through with the ultimate act of selfishness. I couldn't do it to my Mother and sister, nieces and nephews. I cut myself off from all my old friends. I can't blame them, who wants to watch their friend kill themselves one bag at a time? 

IDK I'm rambling now. Thanks guys n gals

 

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8 hours ago, Ironman7 said:

Most of us addicts, including myself, believe the "disease" was always present. It isn't the drugs that turn someone into an addict. It's our reaction to the drugs once we use them. Using drugs wasn't my problem. Using drugs was my solution............to everything!! Getting drunk or high was the only way to stop the constant misery. Always restless, irritable and discontent to the point of acting out in dangerous ways, sometimes ending with me in hand cuffs. It's so much easier to just take a drink, do a shot, hit that pipe, etc, knowing the ease and comfort that will immediately follow. At some point however, the drugs stop working. I got to a point where I could not go on living either with OR without drugs. I seriously considered suicide, to the point of writing several notes. I just couldn't do it though. I'm a selfish ,self centered prick when I'm using but I couldn't go through with the ultimate act of selfishness. I couldn't do it to my Mother and sister, nieces and nephews. I cut myself off from all my old friends. I can't blame them, who wants to watch their friend kill themselves one bag at a time? 

IDK I'm rambling now. Thanks guys n gals

 

When I considered suicide, I told everyone how much better I was feeling and didn't bother writing notes. Heroin almost killed me and also saved my life. But, happy readers, don't do heroin. it's real, real bad.

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I would have to say my MI came first. However, I was introduced to alcohol at 10 by my Oh so wonderful dad. I escaped pain as often as I could. I saw and heard things in my teens, mostly demons and whispers. So, I began to escape those symptoms. Around 19 I began to drink heavily, trying to escape the pain of my fathers "sins". I believed the demons were 100% real So I would try to shut them up.

I dropped acid, tried oxy and took ecstasy through my 20's. I would take these for the fun of it, my drug of choice was mainly alcohol. It wasn't until I hit 27 when I found cocaine, oxy, and meth. Meth quickly replaced alcohol for me. I became "in love" with life again. During all of this my schizoaffective bipolar was in full bore.

After my suicide attempt I was officially diagnosed, that was around 31 I think. They told me that what I was experiencing with the demons were fabrications in my mind. Though, I fully believe that they are real still. I became a nightmare to be around because my MI was taking It's toll.

It was a matter of time that I stopped my meds, I believed I didn't need them. That's when the drinking started again and shortly after that I switched back to meth. I spent an entire year with a needle in my arm daily. I eventually got caught and sent to jail. Since then I got help. I went through rehab and now I am clean and sober. First time in my life that I had to actually face the demons. I take my meds and I fight the cravings with DBT skills that I learned from rehab and reinforced with my tdoc and my pdoc. The truth is i have no constitution to say no. I believe my addiction was the escape from my MI which seems to have always existed. I even attempted another suicide attempt with an OD on meth. I ended up in the hospital in the psyc ward just last year.

 

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My MI preceeded my substance abuse by a good 15 years...It took me quite a long time to turn to self-medication.  I stumbled upon that "solution" about 3-4 years ago and am now struggling to stop using it as a coping mechanism.

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MI was there long before substance abuse. I would likely never have had any serious issues with substance abuse had it not been for MI.

And I just wanted to add something else: 12 step programs/ AA/ NA are not very knowledgeable about MI. Those people are fairly indoctrinated. To them, alcohol/ substance abuse is always the root cause to every other problem. I tried to open up once about my MI and was met with blank stares and disbelief. Sorry, not for me. I actually did much better without it.

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12 step programs like AA/NA are not for everyone. I've bounced in and out of them for 15 years. I must say that writing a thorough 4th step and taking a 5th step with a sponsor was tremendously beneficial. I'm burnt out on it though. I haven't been to a meeting in over a year. I'm actually going to one tomorrow though, hahaha. I'm meeting a female there. Honestly, she's the only reason I'm going. Women and sex can become an addiction with me too. Shit, anything can. I'm addicted to the gym now and I have a serious sneaker addiction. I have dozens of pairs of Adidas and Nike. I have to consider my addictive nature before I get into anything!

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Ironman7, interesting question...

Well, I remember being 5 years old and thinking, "I'm really sad."  Like alot of people in recovery, I often felt out of place and not accepted.  I believe that and genetics fostered the perfect environment for self-medicating.  That and a penchant for MDMA ;-)

Opiates, particularly heroin, were my downfall.  I just got home from extended treatment in Florida actually.

So in my opinion, for ME, it was MI then addiction by default.

 

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I kind of wish there was a space on CB where users not in recovery could talk about their addiction, even if they like it and want to talk about how much they love it/hate it. Yes, I know you can do that in Drugsforum and Reddit, but they're not necessarily well-versed in MI. It'd be nice to have a supportive space where we don't have to worry about triggering anyone in recovery, because I'm craving the needle baaaaaaad, and I kind of want to write soliloquies about heroin, haha.

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Wow sixteenshells,

            I would love to have a place to talk about active addiction uncensored! That takes balls for you to suggest and I respect you for it. You and I can talk about it at least. I'll try to send you a message. To be honest, I don't come on CB very much. I just respond to notifications. Haha. 😵

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On 3/23/2017 at 1:15 PM, tommy215 said:

Ironman7, interesting question...

Well, I remember being 5 years old and thinking, "I'm really sad."  Like alot of people in recovery, I often felt out of place and not accepted.  I believe that and genetics fostered the perfect environment for self-medicating.  That and a penchant for MDMA ;-)

Opiates, particularly heroin, were my downfall.  I just got home from extended treatment in Florida actually.

So in my opinion, for ME, it was MI then addiction by default.

 

My depression and anxiety are treatment-resistant. Opiates/ heroin always made me feel "normal." Yes, I got high, but it wiped out most of my anxiety/ depression symptoms. I know this sounds bad, but last year when I was on heroin, I felt way better than I do now, mentally. A few psychiatrists are even starting to use low dose suboxone for people with treatment-resistant depression. That would be a scary prospect for me, but I'm at a point where I'm willing to try anything. I have a lot of suicidal ideation and it's a struggle just getting through each day. Maybe I have a form of depression that is caused by something being off with my endogenous opioid system. Maybe not, but I also don't think serotonin reuptake is the problem in my brain because SSRI's do absolutely nothing for me.

I don't know what to think anymore. I know drugs are not the answer and I don't intend to go back on them. But all in all, I think substance abuse for people with severe, treatment-resistant depression (self-medication) is a different animal. I went so many years feeling awful that I'm surprised that some friends/ family are surprised that I would do drugs. It seems pretty logical to me. When confronted with crippling, suicidal depression, using heroin is an easier choice to make. Again, I'll never go back to it, but sometimes I miss it for its antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. I just want to feel human.

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I totally understand and feel the exact same way. I don't know wtf is wrong with me. I don't think my docs do either. I've been self medicating a bit lately and I have a habit again. In fact, to be totally honest, I'm loaded with anxiety waiting for the dope man right now. Stay clean my friend!!!!

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2 hours ago, Ironman7 said:

I totally understand and feel the exact same way. I don't know wtf is wrong with me. I don't think my docs do either. I've been self medicating a bit lately and I have a habit again. In fact, to be totally honest, I'm loaded with anxiety waiting for the dope man right now. Stay clean my friend!!!!

To be completely honest, I've indulged here and there occasionally after I officially quit last year (after rehab). The last time was in December. I kept deluding myself into thinking it was a good idea to get a temporary escape. The main reason I've stopped doing that (aside from being broke) is because even if I just get a small amount and use for one day, I always end up feeling like shit for like 5-7 days after. My anxiety and depression spike, so it's just not worth it. The extra pain isn't worth the temporary good feelings. I think I've finally learned my lesson. But if it wasn't for that extended "hangover" effect, I would probably still use once in a while. It actually makes me kind of sad that I can't do it. I don't know anybody else that's like that, either. I've never met someone who can't have a good night or two without bad mental consequences that last for days.

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