‘Substance use and mental health issues do not develop in a vacuum’

From Mad in Ireland: I am employed as a peer educator with the Dublin North, North East Recovery College and the Recovery Academy of Ireland. My work gives me the privilege to share my experience and to witness the lived experience of a diverse range of people with mental health and substance use histories. I will share some of my story with the disclaimer that I represent a tiny fraction of the wealth of experiences of dual diagnosis and that I am one of the lucky ones. Some people are still unable to access support and many people are dead.

Read the full article here


  1. This does not surprise me. When I went off to college I was in an acute trauma response from my brother chasing me around the house all day, bludgeoning me in the head causing multiple concussions, threatening me with knives and carving revenge statements into my door, attempting to murder me repeatedly, all while my parents and the other adults did nothing and in fact added on to the abuse. Paych had me on Effexor and I stopped abruptly not knowing how horrible that would be, no one telling me about tapering or withdrawal. I was so terrified all day I resorted to smoking weed and stayed holed up in my dorm not going to class. My parents found out and I came home, they fixated on the weed and I was sent off the rehab, where they threw five or six drugs at me for ‘bipolar’ and told me that the issue was simply ‘addiction,’ whatever that means as an isolated disease entity (means nothing). Cut to multiple years later and I still rely on pot to deal with the hyper vigilance, my parents find out from a psych they hired to do cognitive testing for extra time on GRE’s who asked about substance use (I asked if she’d report back to my parents she said ofc not because of hippa, then she violated hippa and told my parents) and consult with my psychiatrist outside of hippa and my awareness, bring me home on false pretenses and leverage my education telling me they’ll yank the plug on my college education in my senior year and won’t pay for grad school unless I see a substance counselor.

    But the psychiatrist who was my psychiatrist and had no permission to talk to my parents about my care, actually he was agaist this idea in emails I accidentally got sent. Turns out, when my parents were asking about substance counseling, he said ‘are you sure? My experience is they’ll see him even while he’s using. Maybe you want to use your power over him to FORCE him to stop instead.’

    All throughout my life, ‘addiction’ is the problem in a complete vacuum; it’s not a coping mechanism related to anything else but it’s own ‘disease,’; and the solution is aggression, coercion, disempowerment, humiliation, etc.. by the time I started learning about trauma I realized beyond all the horror of growing up with a person trying to murder me and everyone around me denying it or making it worse and debasing me daily, I am in fact probably more traumatized by the fact that every emotion and experience I have links up to the possibility I will have my life invaded and my freedom completely stripped through coercion I am somehow supposed to be grateful for (identifying with the aggressor).

    I’m sober now and in treatment for cptsd, but that’s only because my grandma died and left me a mint and I could afford to say ‘the issue is trauma.’ I had said it a million times before and I was buried by my parents for being a ‘blamer,’ shouted down in addiction treatment for ‘making excuses,’ and invalidated by my psychiatrist who insisted it was my ‘other diagnoses.’

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