Monday, February 8, 2010

Dual Diagnosis part 2: A preface

Last week I wrote about Dual Diagnosis, or Co-Occurring disorders, which refer to people who have both a mental illness and a substance abuse problem (licit or illicit.) This week I wanted to address what you can do if you have a loved one who is living with this issue.

I want to start out by saying that I struggled with writing this post yesterday. I felt blocked and so I decided to sleep on it. I think I know why. I think it is because I wanted to be careful when writing this post. Careful to give you good advice and resources, but also careful not to make it sound like the tips and links I was giving you would make things easy.

Because watching someone you love struggle with not one but two illnesses can be daunting right? It can feel like you are all alone in the struggle. The temptation to try and fix things within your family, or relationship, or friendship-without seeking outside help-can be great. And the feeling that it is your job to fix their problems, to save them, can be a weighty one.

It can be scary to even broach the subject with a person you care about. What if they get mad, what if you lose the relationship, what if you're wrong? The simple act of bringing the problem into the light through honest discussion...well it can feel anything but simple.

And even when your loved one has begun treatment, there is still a long hard road ahead. Overcoming mental illness and substance abuse at the same time is not easy. It is challenging. It is complicated. It takes time, often lots of time. It is hard, two steps forward one step back, work. I want to acknowledge this. (I might add that the above also applies to people who are struggling with other mental illnesses or disorders.)

Yet I don't want to rob you of hope. I truly believe that there is always room for hope. It is possible to overcome dual diagnosis. There are resources out there for you, there is help out there. There are communities of people who know what you are going through, and they can support you. If there is one message that runs through all of the tips and advice I am about to offer it is this one: You are not alone, you don't have to do this alone. There is help out there, and there is always room for hope.



I am going to leave at that for this post. I wanted to get that out there. I wanted to let you know that I know there are no quick fixes. That I am not trying to tell you that I can give you easy answers. I am going to include all the tips and links I have for you in an immediate follow up post. I hope they will help you, your family, your loved ones.

-Jessica

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