Addiction just might be symptomatic of something else…

During lunch the other day, I was responding to a question from a colleague about one of my own core beliefs about Addiction, which is that Addiction can be symptomatic of another issue, when someone in the next booth mumbled a comment under her breath that I knew was directed at me because I was able to make out the word, “Addiction” right before her mumbles took over.

So then, though my colleague has heard me talk about why I believe about the symptomatic potential that an addiction has, I became a bit pedantic and directed my conversation towards the Mumbler’s direction.  “Take heroin and cocaine, for example,” I said and noticed that she bent her ear in my direction.  “Often, people who use cocaine are struggling with undetected and undiagnosed ADHD; people who use heroin or other opiates have a trauma and pain background that the opiates mask.”

She actually shook her head. Regardless of the Mumbler’s incredulity, though, my statement is absolutely true.  It’s not a secret that Adderall is a stimulant, similar to cocaine that is used to treat ADHD.  The reason: Stimulants calm those who struggle with ADHD.

Further, almost ever opiate user I’ve ever worked with has either a history of emotional trauma or physical pain.  Or both, really.  The simple fact is that opiates are used to relieve pain and they do a very good job of it, whether that pain is emotional or physical.

Traditional models of addiction treatment do account for the possibility of “co-occurring” disorders; however, many old-school approaches call for treating the addiction before any other treatment can commence.  I disagree with that approach: Knowing that an addiction can reveal a lot about what a person is dealing with can actually aid and improve treatment of what might be the root cause of the addiction.  Addiction mining is something that can be illuminating and useful, if you can get passed the common myths about Addiction.

My colleague and I finished out  lunch and conversation and as we stood to leave, the Mumbler looked at me and said, “There just might be something to what you were saying…”

Well, Mumbler: I know there is.

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