Get Your Life Back!

Take the first step of the rest of your healthy life... Fill out and submit the form below to get started:

Bipolar is Not Borderline: Why Proper Mental Health Diagnosis Fuel Effective Addiction Recover

April 2, 2019 - , , , - 0 Comments

Substance abuse is a real danger that often triggers a variety of mental health problems that require dual-diagnosis to manage. For example, many people experience suicidMillions of people suffer from the ravages of drug abuse, a problem that typically goes hand-in-hand with many types of mental health issues. Correctly diagnosing addiction, especially those underlying co-occurring disorders, is critical to ensuring that you get the best care possible for your needs.

First of All: Is Addiction a Disease?

The debate has raged for years on whether addiction is a disease or a moral failing. The original 12 step program was built on the idea that a person had failed, morally, and needed help regaining their strength. However, a better understanding of the physical and emotional nature of addiction has made it easier to diagnose where this condition begins. And, we think it is fair to say, substance abuse disorders are not related to moral failings but can be classed as some type of disease. 

For example, Harvard Medical School states that addicted people have brains that work differently than those who do not. Simply put, specific deficits in the prefrontal cortex make addictive behaviors easier for some people to fall into than others. That’s why some people may smoke cigarettes for years and quit without difficulty while somebody else may struggle to stop for their whole life. The flood of dopamine caused by substance use is one that can be hard for those with addictions to resist. 

And, in another study reported by the University of Michigan Health Center, it was said that “Addiction is a chronic illness accompanied by significant changes in the brain” and that it did not occur because of “… moral weakness, a lack of willpower or an unwillingness to stop.” The idea behind this concept was that substances permanently altered the chemical structure of the brain and compelled an addicted person to continue using drugs that they know are hurting them. 

addicted brain

Just how much can drugs change a person’s mind? Many types – like opiates and opioids – literally change the neural pathways in the brain to reward drug abuse. They rewire the brain to experience more pleasure from drugs – caused by the release of dopamine – than from any other substance. And since many types of substances can release over 10 times the amount of dopamine the body usually produces, addiction to these substances is a very understandable situation indeed.

And the existence of abuse relapses helps to reinforce the disease model even more. For example, people with cancer may experience a relapse that threatens their life long after they had killed the majority of their tumor. Regressions into addictive behaviors are similar in that they can trigger corrective behaviors that steer a person and their treatment experts towards a better path of sobriety. That said, not every medical professional believes that addiction is a disease.

For example, an article on Psychology Today – which has published other articles countering these claims – states that addiction has “…very little in common with diseases.  It is a group of behaviors, not an illness on its own.  It cannot be explained by any disease process.” This author states that the disease model complicates the treatment process by forcing people to accept certain types of explanations and pushes them to ignore other mitigating information that could explain addiction.

However, even this article argued that proper diagnosis of the underlying factors around addiction – particularly depression, anxiety, trauma, and PTSD – was critical to beating substance abuse for good. So let’s take a look at why this process is so essential for recovery from addiction.

Proper Diagnoses are Very Important  

When a person successfully commits suicide, their loved ones experience a broad array of complex emotions. For example, sadness and mourning often pair with anger and frustration. “How could they have been so selfish?” one person may ask while another bemoans their loved one’s “cowardice.” These misunderstandings are easy to make but don’t quite hint at the true nature of suicide. This act is by no means merely a selfish way for cowards to end their suffering but a sophisticated choice. 


Addiction is, very rarely, a single problem caused by no outside influence. While a large portion of addictive behavior is related to physical health – including a reliance on substances to stay healthy and stable – much of substance abuse’s nature hinges on mental health. Put bluntly, co-occurring disorders – one or more mental health diseases occurring at the same time as addiction – are, by far, the most common issue here and need to be appropriately diagnosed. 

All medical professionals fully understand the importance of this fact. For example, IMJ reports on how all medical schools stress proper diagnosis methods for all types of doctors, from physicians to dentists and psychologists. Timeliness and accuracy are the most important aspects here. A correct diagnosis must be done as soon as possible but must also be accurate to a person’s real condition. However, this accuracy can be a little trickier when it comes to mental health problems. 

Unlike physical health issues, which can often be measured using medical tools and other types of tests, mental health disorders can only be diagnosed using the proper attention and reporting of the individual suffering the disease. These people must describe their condition to the psychiatrist as accurately as possible, detailing all information that may be relevant to their needs. Unfortunately, some people – including those with addictions – may try to hide some issues because of embarrassment. 

This type of behavior can trigger misdiagnoses that can cause all sorts of problem for a person’s mental health. John Hopkins Medicine took at two different pathological diagnoses to get a feel for why this matters. They stated that cancer comes in a variety of different types and if a doctor receives poor feedback from a patient and picks the wrong kind to treat, they could cause treatment complications. This problem is even more concerning for mental health issues because bad treatment may compound other problems. 


Even worse, a psychiatrist may diagnose something based on their preconceptions of the person or their belief that the patient suffers from a problem which doesn’t affect them. For example, a psychiatrist may veer away from bipolar diagnoses because they think this disease is not that common. Unfortunately, they may then diagnose somebody who has bipolar disorder with something like borderline personality disorder and miss the core issues that affect their overall mental health. 

And for people with addiction disorders, understanding this issue is even more critical. For example, a study by Mental Help found that 75 percent of all individuals with a substance abuse disorder have a co-occurring illness. Unfortunately, only seven percent of these people received the dual-diagnosis care that they needed. One contributing factor to this problem is the overabundance of self-diagnosis methods among people suffering from addictive disorders. 

Addiction Self-Diagnosis is Not Wise 

Some people with co-occurring disorders may try to self-diagnose their problems and work through them using behavioral adjustments that they discovered online. This type of behavior is a very poor decision and is one that is more likely to cause problems than solve them. This fact has been confirmed by multiple studies and several medical professionals over the years. 

For example, Psychology Today states that when you self-diagnosis you are “…assuming that you know the subtleties that diagnosis constitutes. This can be very dangerous, as people who assume that they can surmise what is going on with themselves may miss the nuances of diagnosis.” Their example is pretty telling, particularly for addiction and co-occurring disorders. They state that people may self-diagnosis bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness because of mood swings. However, other diseases – such as borderline personality disorder and major depression – all trigger similar feelings. 

And, simply put, these diseases are much different in the ways that they affect the brain. For example, major depression occurs when a person’s mind does not produce enough chemicals to make them happy. By contrast, symptoms of bipolar disorder occur because a person produces widely varying levels of chemicals to cause large mood swings. And borderline personality disorder is not related to brain chemistry much at all but is, instead, a behavioral disorder where people haven’t learned how to socialize appropriately. 


This type of self-diagnosis is a significant problem that can lead to many poor decisions. For example, an article by U.S. News took a look at what people needed to do to overcome a wrong diagnosis from a medical professional. In some cases, this recovery effort could take years to overcome even with expert medical help. Now, imagine the kind of damage you could do if you make a mistake and don’t get it corrected. You’d be pursuing the wrong treatment plan, on your own, with no way to get the help you need managing your addiction and mental health problems. 

And this is an issue that affects everyone trying to beat addictive behaviors with dual-diagnosis. A study by Women’s Health Magazine found that about 80 percent of women read wellness information online with 60 percent of these women doing so to diagnose a medical condition. On average, a woman who self-diagnoses spends about 52 hours per year doing self-diagnosis while visiting a doctor just three times a year for no more than one hour or two at a time. This problem – cyberchondria – is particularly potent when paired with addiction, anxiety, trauma, depression, or other issues. 

Therefore, you cannot afford to let your addiction run rampant but should, instead, get professional help finding the best diagnosis for your mental health problem. In this way, you can recover the happy and healthy life that you deserve and become the most reliable version of you the world has ever seen. 

Professional Rehab Help is the Smartest Choice 

All of these factors make professional drug rehab, recovery, and treatment necessary for individuals suffering from addiction. Professionals can better understand the issues triggering addictive behaviors and will work hard to ensure that things go smoothly. For example, when you check into one of our treatment and recovery programs, the first step is to get you into detox to help manage your physical health. 

Our detox process utilizes a variety of replacement medications to help ease your comedown from what can be pretty difficult substances. This fact is particularly crucial for opioids, opiates, and alcohol, as these substances can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms that may be life-threatening. With the help of physician-assisted withdrawal experts, you can get drugs out of your system and regain a happy and healthy life. 

Just as importantly, our professionals will then diagnose the mental health issues that contribute to the worsening of your condition. Proper diagnosis, remember, is the key to entirely beating your substance abuse issues and bettering your mental health. We start by taking a look at your symptoms, which you describe to us, and work with you and psychologists and psychiatrists to come up with a compelling portrait of what drives you as a person and how your mental health fuels your addiction. 

For example, you may reveal that the death of your father triggered severe trauma that lingered and became PTSD. Sadly, flashbacks to his death in the hospital room continually pull you towards addictive substances like heroin to calm your suffering. You may also use alcohol and other depressants to keep your mind distracted from this problem and to manage emotional and physical pain. Or maybe you use uppers like cocaine to power you through the day and to finish all of your duties at work and home. 


Or maybe you are bipolar and go through an emotional rollercoaster that makes life very difficult. One minute you’re on cloud nine and trying everything you can, finishing all of your goals, and being successful. During these high periods, you find that uppers like methamphetamine keep you going. However, your depression periods are filled with anxiety and personal discomfort, which you help manage with the use of benzodiazepines like Xanax or other types of substances.  With the help of our treatment and recovery center, we’ll diagnose the exact mental health problem or problems that affect you. Then, we’ll work with you in a dual-diagnosis setting to manage your health and make you a stronger and better person. Personal honesty is essential here, as well, because doctors cannot diagnose you with the proper condition if you aren’t open about it with them.

Come to Us For Help

So if you are suffering from a substance abuse disorder from substances like benzos and need proper diagnosis for this danger, please don’t hesitate to contact us at His House right away to get the help that you need. We’ll work with you to provide the kind of high-quality care necessary to not only fully understand your substance abuse disorder but to understand your depression and anxiety as well. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Your Life Back On Track! Our Intake Coordinators are ready for your call 24 hours a day:

(877) 345-4138
  • Aetna Logo
  • Cigna Logo
  • Beacon Logo
  • Health Net Logo
  • Magellan Healthcare Logo
  • Value Options of California Logo
  • Blue California Logo
  • Tricare Logo
  • Humana Logo
  • Unicare Logo
Get Your Life back on track..

Get a new jump on life and get in contact with us by submitting the form below, and get started on a new you..