God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.

Twice today peers, both recovering addicts, have suggested that although I do not drink much, I may be an alcoholic because of my relationship with alcohol (and marijuana, for that matter). The statements ring true. Within me lives an alcoholic over whom I must exert tremendous control. I sense a strong genetic and biological predisposition to alcoholism and marijuana abuse. When I was 17 to 30, I self-medicated using marijuana to slow my thoughts and make me stupid, offering me relief from my hypomanic racing thoughts. Still today, when I see or smell alcohol or marijuana I crave it, and I find myself fighting that craving.

This has been a difficult week for me and my family. For the most part, I am simply going to outline my NAMI Peer-to-Peer week six class, focusing on Dual Diagnosis.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 50 percent of individuals diagnosed with severe mental illness are affected by substance abuse. About 37 percent of individuals with alcoholism and 53 percent of individuals with drug addictions have at least one serious mental illness.


NAMI Peer-to-Peer Class 6 Agenda


20 responses to “NAMI Week Six ~ Dual Diagnosis”

  1. Thank you, Dani!

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Kitt. My mother is the daughter of alcoholic parents. She is bipolar and does have alcoholic tendencies, though she denies it now and will deny it forever. My SIL is the daughter of an alcoholic father and is one herself, though, again, she won’t admit it.

    The work you’re doing is truly commendable.
    Thank you for sharing your journey with such transparency and heart.

    With thanksgiving,

  3. This is very true.

  4. I am Irish/Norwegian/Prussian and Shawnee.
    They are in constant battle to see who will rule, when I try to drink anything!

  5. I’m Irish-German. Both the Irish and the German enjoy drinking.

  6. You do understand that we with Native blood cannot drink.
    I have one drink and nearly pass out!

  7. Well, I definitely can control how much I drink, but I must exert control. I believe that healthy drinkers don’t even have to think about it.

  8. It’s not that I don’t drink. I rarely drink, and when I do drink, I drink very little. But alcohol has a hold on me. When around drinkers, I drink. When I see alcohol in the store or on TV, I crave it. When I smell marijuana or simply remember the feeling, I am transported back.

    For a period of time when I was 21, many years before my bipolar diagnosis, after giving my grandfather’s eulogy, I went in and out of trance states at will. I experienced the same sensation then, that altered state. But I could not predict where I might go. Back then, sometimes I would experience a cleansing, grounding loss of self not akin to addiction. Sometimes, though, I would be deceptively drawn to a dangerous place, a place from where I might never return. This dangerous, dark side, was akin to addiction. I often think of C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters in relation to this dark and deceptive side, as if a metaphorical demon was seducing me. Although, at the time I believed that with the right “guru” or guide I might achieve some sort of deeper awareness or enlightenment, I decided to stop going into these trance states and to return to the Roman Catholic Church of my ancestors and learn more about the Christian mystics. I felt vulnerable and didn’t want to open myself to the potential lure of a cult. I am still quite leary of religions, in part because of my poor boundaries.

  9. No worries.

  10. The craving is definitely part of it. There is a mental obsession over alcohol even when not around it or reminded of it in some way. Also, the alcoholics that I know of cannot often control the amount of alcohol they ingest once they take in that first drink.

  11. Thank you, by the way. I forgot to thank you.

  12. It is bizarre to drink so infrequently and so little, but still to feel an almost constant craving. Well almost constant – when I am around alcohol or see characters on TV drinking wine or can smell marijuana or just when I remember how it feels to be under the influence, even mildly under the influence.

    I find myself drinking, desperately saying “Yes!” when offered a drink in a social setting, especially when offered a drink by a family member. When I return home after visiting family, I find myself buying a bottle of wine, which I carefully drink over the course of several days. I even bought a special cork to preserve the bottle so that I could do so.

    Does it even make a difference whether or not I drink, since I drink in such small amounts and so rarely? It is the hold on me that scares me, not the amount of alcohol I drink.

  13. Thank you, Marie. My brother-in-law is receiving the best medical care. Since my mother has survived stage 4 cancer twice, I know that modern medicine has come a long way in fighting cancer. I will be posting a thank you to you today.

  14. Thank you, Sany Sue.

  15. Interesting. I think Bipolar disorder and alcoholism are commonly comorbid. My doc wanted me to quit drinking but I wouldn’t for years. My bro, father and grandfather were all alcoholics. I quit when I started Zyprexa about 15 years ago and now abhor the very idea of the alcoholic daze. But we all were self-medicating. Another trick was to stay up until 4AM and go to work the next day too tired to be manic. Glad you’re not drinking, Kitt! Don’t!! It is life down the drain.

  16. I am part of those statistics. Being bipolar, and also a sober alcoholic for ten years now. Email me if you want to talk about the alcohol stuff. Its a cunning and baffling disease they say.

  17. KItt,

    You and your family are in my thoughts. I read your other post on cancer and all and I am simply put, sad. May your faith be your source of consolation and my science also provide other sources of treatment too.

  18. Kit, I hope the difficulties fade.

  19. Thank you, Dyane.

  20. Thank you for sharing this, Kitt. My father was an alcoholic, and I hated the stuff until after I was diagnosed with bipolar @ 37. Then I too self-medicated with alcohol until I started my MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) medication last year. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol since I took my first pill, as the medication and alcohol are highly contraindicated & can result in death. I also have a psychiatrist who is an addiction specialist and he worked with many alcoholics over thirty years. He’s a wonderful resource.

    You and your family are in my thoughts each day and I hope the coming week is much easier for you!

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