Addiction/Mental Illness Discussion Prompts

Discuss the connection between mood disorders and addiction.

I was shocked to hear that the average opiate addict is white male from 40-55 and 90% are using prescription drugs!

Richard Taite reports that 10 years ago the opiate addicts were using cocaine and heroin. NOW 90% are using prescription drugs.  He says that Oxycontin should not be used more than 10 days. Taite has been fighting to change the law but the pharmaceutical companies have blocked him with PAC money to legislators.


IS it Childhood Trauma? 

Why does that kid act like that?

Were you surprised by any of the information you read in the Mental Illness and Addiction module?  Why do people with hyperactive …ADHD, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorders etc.  self- medicate with alcohol and opiates?  Why can’t these people just stop? Personal Experiences? How can you help your students and parents get past the “stigma”?

Was Steve Jobs Autistic?


An Addict. Your reflections?

My experience with addiction.
Anonymous May 16, 2013 2:10 PM

Hello all,

I am a guest of Dr. Bridges come to share my experience with addiction and mental illness.

I grew up in what would be considered by most to be a typical american family. We had a stay at home mother, corporate executive father and 2 kids in our nuclear family. My sister and I wanted for very little, except perhaps a present father figure in our lives. My father was an intelligent man with a high powered job, but his primary interests were smoking, drinking, and pursuing his personal interests.

I swore to myself that I would never pick up a drink or a drug. I grew to despise my self-absorbed father and was completely committed to never becoming like him. This lasted till the end of my high school career. I spent my entire childhood and adolescent feeling like an outsider looking in. Near the end of high school I found acceptance among a group of other social outcasts. I started drinking with them just before my eighteenth birthday.

For the first time in my life I did not feel locked up within the prison of my mind. My thick shell of self-conscious analysis melted away and nothing seemed important. People and situations no longer had the same impact on me. The ever-present feelings of anxiety and disconnectedness disappeared. I made a total ass out of myself, and angered a number of my peers with my outrageous behavior. The consequences didn’t matter. I loved the feeling of absence and I prepared to give myself to oblivion.

Using drugs and alcohol offered me a release. They offered me relief for the first time I could remember in my life. I can’t tell you whether I am predisposed genetically to addictive behavior. I don’t know whether a tumultuous home life and lack of a male role model was causal. People who know little of addiction may assert that my abuse of chemicals was a failing of morality or a deficiency of character. I can tell you, based on the hundreds of people from all walks of life that I’ve met struggling with addiction, that the answer is not as simple as a single sentence.

The relationship between mental illness and addiction is incredibly complex. Strong correlations have been established between the two, and so dual-diagnosis treatment of addiction and mental illness has become more and more common.

Throughout my tenure as a drunk and a junkie I have been labeled with every diagnosis you could possibly imagine. It is incredibly difficult to diagnose an addict who is active in their addiction because many of the symptoms of drug addiction and mental illness coalesce.

Now that I’ve been sober for a period of time, my mental illness symptoms have subsided with the exception of the ones that played a huge part in the development of my addiction. I still suffer from anxiety at times, particularly social. I learned about the power of my cognitions to create these feelings, and as time passes and I practice the tools I’ve been given these symptoms decrease. I got the support I needed from other addicts like myself as well as a community of professionals who truly understood that addiction behaves very much like a disease. As future educators I would encourage you to learn about the disease model of addiction, and if you are somewhat ambitious, the neurobiological research on the subject is truly fascinating.

I can see how many people here have been touched by addiction and mental illness in their own lives. This truly is a problem that affects individuals in all walks of life regardless of status or education. As you become teachers you will invariably encounter those who are already struggling or who are at higher risk than others due to factors such as social rejection, troubled home lives and myriad other factors. Last I read most general practitioners in family medical practices only spent 2-4 weeks learning about addiction in their training. I believe that it is imperative for you as teachers to understand how addiction works, how to respond to individuals struggling with it, and how to talk to families about these issues.
Thank you for your time.

A. N. Addict