When I was in rehab for drugs and alcohol, it was determined that I had symptoms of borderline personality disorder. As they said, the treatment center I was at did not treat mental illness, so I was going to be referred to a facility where I could have a lot of attention for what they identified as borderline personality disorder, or BPD.
So about ten days into drug rehab I am told that I need to finish at least thirty days there, and then go spend another thirty to ninety days in a mental illness treatment center.
As you can probably gather, this is not at all what you want to hear when you are trying so desperately to stay sober.
What I learned later was that there are rehabs that treat people with substance abuse and mental illness, focusing on understanding and helping you with both diagnoses instead of just alcohol and drug treatment and then mental illness treatment.
The term for that is dual diagnosis. I have been dualy diagnosed, and unfortunately I was not given all the options at the time of the two diagnoses. I could have saved time, and from what I have read since, actually had a better chance of long-term sobriety if both of my issues had been addressed within one rehab stint.
Dual diagnosis versus traditional drug treatment raises a lot of issues. I’ve learned that until someone is sober and clean for a while, mental illness symptoms can be explained by the substance use. The treatment staff at the rehab I attended said that even making an accurate mental illness diagnosis requires several days, if not weeks, of a substance-free individual.
I guess all was not lost because I had been drinking and using for so long that who knows when the borderline could have started, and maybe using for so long caused further progression of symptoms of the mental illness.
What I now know is that both addiction and BPD are manageable for me, and whether treated together or separately, it’s up to me how I want to continue living.
Listen to a testimonial from Elizabeth about her dual diagnosis treatment: