Name: Isabel Constantino
From: Chicago, Illinois
Combating Dual Diagnosis
Awareness Scholarship Campaign
the summer of 2017, I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. I was
hospitalized twice in the same month, the entire time spent in
alternating states of euphoria and desperation. As I was developing
the disorder, I had failed a class. It was when I was placed in
summer school that my symptoms developed into a severe manic episode.
I suffered delusions, sometimes feeling like I was at the height of
the human experience. I felt as if I was blessed. At that moment, I
felt like I was being sought after. I had a special mission.
Returning to reality was like a hard punch to the gut. I was
devastated at the wreck I had made of my life.
this experience, in many ways, I realize that I am lucky. Unlike many
of those who have been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, I have not
experienced addiction. Among Bipolar individuals, dual diagnosis
involving substance abuse is relatively common. It has been found
that the majority of those with Bipolar disorder have experienced
addiction at some point in their lifetime (Bipolar
Disorder and Addiction).
I can understand why. Mania distorts life into an experience that is
in itself addictive. Anything that can feel good somehow twists
itself into an experience that feels like it is at the peak of what
life is meant to be like. Such an experience is not only worthy of
pursuit but must be pursued. Recreational drugs, which specialize in
the art of making one feel good, must feel like little miracles. Even
now, I have unusual reactions to what I perceive as rewarding. My
hands shake. I tremble. I feel a thrill where most people would
probably just feel happy.
not for the treatment options at my disposal, I do not doubt that my
story would have had a tragic end. I was able to access an outpatient
treatment program, as well as medication which effectively brought
myself to sanity. If I had not had the insurance available at my
disposal to ensure access to this treatment, I would not have been
able to recover as I did. As I am now, I am stable. I achieved a 4.0
GPA in community college, as well as an acceptance to Boston
University. Carl Hart, a professor at Columbia University, has found
through observing experiments done on rats and humans that when
attractive alternatives are made available to addicts they are
capable and willing to opt for this alternative (Let’s
Quit Abusing Drug Users).
to my understanding, one of the primary issues driving the addiction
crisis is the lack of accessibility and knowledge of these
alternatives. In college, it is common to seek out recreational drugs
as a response to stress. I have heard students declare how much they
are looking forward to engaging in drug and alcohol use after
undergoing a stressful experience. In doing so, they hinder
themselves in developing healthy responses to stress. They may
threaten their mental stability and functioning, perhaps eventually
rendering themselves incapable of participating effectively in
remedy this crisis, work must be done to increase the level of access
to alternatives to drug and alcohol use. As well as this, these
alternatives must be popularized. Widespread knowledge of them must
exist. Though addiction is a multilayered issue with many causes,
with the availability of attractive alternatives, I have hope that
this crisis can be addressed.
by Ian Espinosa
“Bipolar Disorder and
Recovery Network, dualdiagnosis.org/bipolar-disorder-and-addiction/.
Espinosa, Ian. “Unsplash.”
15 July 2017, unsplash.com/photos/rX12B5uX7QM.
“Let’s Quit Abusing Drug
Users.” Performance by Carl Hart, TEDMED,
TED Conference, 2014, www.tedmed.com/talks/show?id=309156.