Dual Diagnosis

The guest in this conversation is Sean, a 28 year old who has taken drugs since his mid teens.  He has dealt with mental illness in the form of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. While we are the platform for him to share his perspective the opinions he expresses are not necessarily those of OD.  He shares his struggle, his thoughts, and his view on the pharmaceutical industry. Again, share with anyone who may find strength in this.  Here are his words…

OD: What are your thoughts on addiction?

Sean: For me, substances exasperated my mental illness, alcohol would numb me out. It’s tough to talk about. I feel like it’s just so strong, almost like an emotion, like happiness. It’s so widespread. I believe its curable but for some reason people still struggle or try and substitute substances. I don’t know if its a drug or 12 Step but i definitely think it’s curable.

OD: What makes you think it’s curable?

Sean: The same way most other things are curable. I think if we put our best scientist to work they would create something, probably another drug, that would take care of the problem. We have basically cured every disease known to man. Why should addiction be any different? Honestly I think solutions are out there and just not available. I think there’s boundaries for solving our addiction problem. I believe it’s possible it was created in a lab years ago; some form of deterrents, anti abuse agents, or antidotes.

OD: How have drugs impacted you personally?

Sean: They’ve made me an addict at times, they’ve probably stopped me from being an addict at times.  I guess they’ve made me see other possibilities. They’ve opened up my eyes to some things and they’ve given me hope at time.  Adderall for instance, I took Adderall and it made me smarter, it made me more talkative.

OD: Did it really make you smarter though?

Sean: Maybe the environmental aspect of it.  Maybe that’s not the right word, maybe not smarter but more focused.  It helped me and it opened my eyes to the fact that some drugs, while they may be addictive, may be able to help people in some ways.  

OD: Do you think you’re a more whole person today than you would have been had you not experimented with drugs.

Sean: It’s hard to say because if I never touched substance is a hypothetical.  I couldn’t go back in time, but yeah, then again I’d say no in some regard. I’ve been going through the motions trying to finish school and stuff.  I mean if I was living some top tier life it wouldn’t be an issue.

OD: Do you think drugs have had some impact in you not living a top tier life?

Sean: I’d say no, well some drugs, not all drugs.  Pots never helped me do anything other than zone out and relax, alcohol hasn’t really helped me do anything, opiates have helped me get over a couple hurdles in my work life.  I had a tough roofing job where I had a lot of pain so they got me through the day. Adderall made going through school easier, cocaine to go out and meet new people.

OD: Why weren’t you able to do those things without the drugs?

Sean: I was, it just made it easier to go out and meet people, to go out and talk to people.  Easier to come up with new ideas and be an upbeat person.

OD: It affected your mood?  The reason I asked, “Do you think you would have been a more whole person had you not taken drugs,” is because people often take drugs to fill a void was that the case?

Sean: With opiates yeah, with pot yeah, with alcohol yeah.  Yeah with almost every drug, yeah definitely. But not every time I used a drug.  Obviously the first, second time I did it I was just trying to go out and have fun.

OD: Tell me about your progression into drug use.

Sean: The first drug I tried was marijuana when I was 15 years old.  I did it because everyone else was doing it. I said to myself, “this guy is doing it, and this guy is doing it, I’m going to try this.  I don’t care even that it looks messed up.” It just looked so unattractive to me, we’re sitting there with this aluminum bowl in someone’s backyard. I was like this is messed up, so I did it to fit in mostly. I figured I’d end up smoking pot in the future, I didn’t think it would consume me.

OD: It consumed you?

Sean: It consumed me in a way because I started using just for something to do.  For example, before my mom got home. I’d smoke and just kind of fall asleep on the couch and eat munches I liked that.  I liked that it got rid of my headaches, I had a lot of headaches back in the day, and it took care of them. I liked just kinda chilling out and feeling like a cool kid, and that’s what the cool kids were doing.

OD: Is that why you started smoking?

Sean: Mostly it was because I liked the way it made me feel, but also because I felt like I was part of the smokers group, you know, the cool kids.  Now I’m kind of unattracted to it because it zones me out, it makes me less sharp. Before it didn’t do that, I was ready to go, go hit the bar. But now I’m like why.  Well before weed there was alcohol, I don’t know if we’re counting that. The first time I drank alcohol was at a party, I literally lost my pants. I felt all hopped up and after that alcohol was a thing.

OD: Why’d you start drinking?

Sean: Because it felt great and everybody was doing it.  I’ve never done heroin, but it literally felt like I imagine heroin would feel to me.  The feeling got rid of all my shininess, all my inhibitions, and I just felt free. I was free as a bird.  That’s the thing I miss, but the problems don’t go away. Drugs don’t solve the problems.

OD: That’s the thing with drugs is there’s the psychological aspect and the physical aspect.  After taking them for so long you become physically dependent. Then it’s not to fill a void it’s to feel normal.

Sean: I could drink a 24 pack and maybe blackout or stumble over my words, but I wouldn’t get that feeling of pleasure from being drunk.  Same thing with pot, I wouldn’t get the feeling where you’re really happy and hungry. I don’t get those feelings from drugs anymore, it’s mainly I’m trying to fill a void.  But it’s not a craving anymore for those drugs, they don’t create the desired effect, they don’t work for me anymore. The only time I still wanna do that type of stuff is if I’m really lonely, but it’s not something that I can overlook anymore.  I know that I can get over it.

OD: Is it hard to talk about?

Sean: No not really, some of the things I was really shy about back in middle and high school were taking my shirt off or saying anything other than a short comment. I never really knew how to express myself, I never had deep conversations with anybody.  Even my best friends in middle school, high school. We’d skateboard or hit the books, we’d never really talk. We’d do shit but never had deep conversations. I think that’s one thing that kind of held me back, and why I used drugs because I never had those conversations, and my family life wasn’t the best either.  

OD: Yeah I totally get that, it’s like it’s uncharted territory.  You’re in a scenario where you’re supposed to be developing yourself but no ones showing you how to have these deep, meaningful conversations.

Sean: I’m kind of over that now, nothing really scares me anymore, I mean don’t get me wrong there’s things out there but nothing really scares me like this.  I think it’s mainly because I didn’t really have a father to talk to, or a father like I envision I would be like. I have a father, and I guess he’s been there.  But there would be times when I’m so down and out and it’s like did I ever call him, but I’m thinking to myself why isn’t he calling me.

OD: When did you last take opiates?

Sean: Four, five, maybe six months ago, but that was because I really needed them.  But then again I went and took too many of them when they’re prescribe, like a dumbass I went and took them all in two days and that’s the problem with opiates. Why do they make you feel so good?  Some substances I don’t have the best control over but I’ve never overdosed, I’ve been close but I’ve never had an overdose.

OD: So why do you use them?

Sean: I really don’t.

OD: What do you think about the opiate epidemic in the country as a whole?

Sean: I think it’s still being created and perpetuated by big Pharma.  It’s all big Pharma, everybody’s addicted because of them. There will always be doctors out there that are drug pushers, also there will always be good doctors out there that will follow the rules.  Who won’t prescribe unless there are certain circumstances, but once they prescribe they prescribe a lot. No one’s really going to do anything till the man comes down and says we have to get rid of these or lower the amounts.  The sad part is, they can’t just go on TV and admit we’ve been wrong. It’s all about big Pharma. They’re lying to consumers.

OD: What do you think of the OD Movement?

Sean: I love that it’s about going out and making a stand for what people need to hear.  It takes hope to push the movement, and it takes desire to drive the people to want more.  I think the OD movement is imperative to creating a foundation for users and those impacted who need an outlet. It’s not a recovery program, but it provides discussions about other users experiences that can be beneficial in the actual process of recovery. Relating to someone’s story and responses spark a desire for joining in and voicing your own thoughts and concerns.   I also feel that it will save lives once the Narcan provisions are in place. My favorite thing about the movement is that doesn’t shy away from anything. You can tell all and not be worried about the consequences. I can’t wait for the T-shirt’s to start rolling out sign me up!

OD: Final thoughts?

Sean: It’s all big Pharma and time. With what we have today we should be able to look at our situation and realize that there are in fact solutions available just not released. Vivitril, Naloxone, Antabuse, etc. have done wonders but if we have any knowledge of what medical science does and can do then and only then can we accept that we are just part of big Pharma’s plan and that there is indeed hope yet we aren’t welcome to it as of yet.  Why should we not believe that there are solutions out there. It’s all about the press and putting pressure on the people who control our media outlets. People need an outlet and to believe. This is how we do it. Get out there and tell yourself, your friends, and family what you have gone through and just believe and have hope for what humans can do. We can do it. It’s curable just like everything else. Also, i think Open Discussion is awesome, I enjoyed doing this.  I liked talking about it because it helped me understand and grasp my situation. Just believe and support OD and maybe one day this will change the world for people suffering with it.