I listened to a very interesting talk last night by the author Will Self. He has discussed his recovery from addiction in many interviews but last night he gave an excellent talk to Doctors and Psychiatrists to try and help them understand how they can help others with this problem. He made the very good point that when addicts are presenting in front of doctors and psychiatrsist they are often in denial of their own addictions and, even if not, will tend to keep them a secret because to admit them would mean accepting the need to stop. He pointed out that without this crucial piece of information Doctors and Psychiatrists will often make plenty of other diagnosis and, more worrying, prescribe plenty of psychiatric medication.
Of course Will Self accepted that mental illnesses can exist as well as addiction but not nearly as often as people imagine. In our own research we have found that nearly all people with addiction problems will display extreme psychiatric symptomatology on admission to our clinic. We studied this effect and retested our patients using psychiatric diagnostic questionnaires and found that nearly all these symptoms were reduced by half by simply removing the addictive process. In other words we should wait until the addictive processes have been dealt with before making other psychiatric diagnosis like depression or bi polar disorder. This may seem like common sense and indeed it is the standard diagnostic procedure in both the American and European diagnostic manuals and yet I think you would be horrified to discover how often people with addiciton issues are admitted to clinics and immediately given other psychiatric labels and, more concerning, put onto psychiatric medications without waiting to see what is really going on. There really should be more care about this.