Dual Diagnosis

By Alan Larsen 05/22/19

I'm a recovering alcoholic/addict that was diagnosed with Bipolar (I) Disorder over decade ago; otherwise known as "dual diagnosis." In many cases (including my own) addiction is identified as a symptom of Bipolar Disorder.

In the early years, I had a very rough time accepting this condition; and all of the professionally suggested measures that I was advised to take. From medications to therapy sessions; it all seemed pointless and degrading. I wanted nothing more to just feel a sustained state of normalcy. I wanted no part of the medication being prescribed; I wanted no part in the sobriety that was strongly recommended. As you could probably already image; These upheld reservations didn't prove to be beneficial. In fact, it only made things worse. FAST.

I was afraid. Afraid to be labeled a manically depressed nutcase that people would be unattracted to; which only made me even more angry, embarrassed and ashamed. So i turned to the only thing that gave me any sort of "balanced comfort;" You guessed it.... Narcotics & alcohol; creating nothing less than the perfect storm.

This went on, off and on, for a solid 18 years of my life. Creating instability, poor health, wreckless behavior, incarceration and emotional wreckage for myself and the others that love me.

Until one day, i took a hard look at my surroundings. Nothing.

No home, no car, no food, no money, no ambition, no inspiration, no life, no healthy relationships and no means to carry on. It was then that I had finally accepted what was the inevitable. I had to make a choice between life or substance abuse; and a choice between life or treatment for my mental illness. I was barely able to make any sort of rational decision at the time. But, by the grace of the universe, I chose life. And I accepted what was required in order to live a better life.

Although a dual diagnosis may not be the easiest situation deal with, I am no longer ashamed of it. Through the help of healthy resources and other entities, I've learned to not only accept it, but to embrace it. However, It doesn't define me; nor does it defeat me. Through creative energy and a disciplined routine, I'm able to channel it all into a positive outcome.

All because of 2 things:
• Accepting that I needed help
• Accepting the help that was needed

Addiction & mental health are often co-occurring conditions. But with increased awareness, both can be treated simultaneously; leading to a path of recovery. Which is why I am sharing my story. To create awareness and to do my part in breaking the stigma.  


Join the conversation, become a Fix blogger. Share your experience, strength, and hope, or sound off on the issues affecting the addiction/recovery community. Create your account and start writing: https://www.thefix.com/add-community-content.