Coping with mental illness and addiction for those in which they co-occur can be daunting. This is a confusing experience because there are many complicating factors and it is often not clear which illness came first.

Sometimes addiction brings on symptoms of mental illness, most notably bipolar disorder and depression. For some, the first year of sobriety in particular one can experience tremendous mood swings and long periods of sadness and a lack of motivation. For others, the mental illness has gone undiagnosed so self-medicating becomes the solution to relieve deep suffering.  The self-medication can lead to addiction.

In AA’s Big Book author Bill Wilson stressed that AA “cooperate widely with the men of medicine.” (Forward to the 2nd Edition, page xx) That partnership has not flourished as AA has aged and as the medical field has become more complicated and very specialized.

The abstinent camp points fingers at the medical establishment and pharmaceutical industry saying there is too much over-prescribing going on for those who are newly sober.  There is a sentiment that the medication takes the edge off just enough so that a deep spiritual experience and being in enough pain to want to make significant change becomes unlikely. Doctors and therapists that prescribe indicate that the abstinent camp is over generalizing and not knowledgable enough about mental illness. Both may have a point.


Prana Recovery Centers looks at the individual and says “How can we partner together to prevent relapse?” We understand that dual diagnosis is real and left untreated – potentially fatal.  When you have a loved one who is in the midst of a mental illness and/or addiction crisis, it frankly doesn’t matter who is right. What matters is immediate, thorough, and compassionate support with links to a full range of services and connections to support all aspects of the individual and the family.

What we can all agree upon is that people need help. Long term, committed, in-it-until-you-are-stable help that is steadfast and full of kindness, real solutions, and patience.  There are no quick fixes.  We get that.

Once an individual is willing to effectively engage with our six pillars of wellness, we find the wrap around supports to make sure the approach is holistic, compassionate, and knowledgable.   We work diligently with the individual to wrap services around him or her that first bring stability, and then short to long term sobriety.


If you find yourself in this situation, give us a call at 978.580.0631.  We understand and are here to help!

Below are a couple of links that we find useful:

Bipolar Disorder & Addiction

PTSD & Substance Abuse

Trauma & Substance Abuse


Share This

Share This Post

Tell your friends about this great article.