Co-Occurring Disorders: Dual Diagnoses

In my sophomore year of college, I began to have some kind of “attacks.” They
appeared to come out of nowhere. It happened the first time at my 8 a.m. Composition and Rhetoric class. Suddenly, my chest felt tight. It was hard to breath. I got dizzy, clammy, pale. I was shaking uncontrollably and I knew one thing for certain: I had to get out of there!!

I’ll never forget cutting off a semi-truck as I stomped on the gas, stomach churning, trying to beat him as I cut him off coming onto the interstate. I did not care at that moment if I died. I often believed I was having a heart attack. I honestly believed that I was going to die if I did not get home..and fast!!

About three emergency room visits, several to a cardiologist, and two to psychiatrists, I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder. I eventually ended up withdrawing that semester because I could not go to class. I couldn’t hang out with my friends. I couldn’t work. My husband was mad at me because he said I just, “didn’t want him to have a social life.” hah!

True to form in the early 2000’s, Big Pharma was raking in millions by over prescribing pain medications. Benzodiazepams, which include drugs such as Valium, Klonopin, and xanax, were not only doled out in droves as well, but they can be extremely lethal when mixed with opiates, alcohol, amd any other depressant.

I returned home with a prescription of Klonopin and Xanax. My panic attacks finally subsided and I was able to go on with my life…for the time being. I had NO CLUE what a dangerous path I was on!!

At this point in my life, I was in complete denial about my alcoholism. I come from a long line of alcoholics. I even had a couple friends suggest that maybe these sudden “fits”, that I had been having were a result of alcohol withdrawal. I laughed off their remarks thinking, “everybody parties in college. THAT doesn’t make me an alcoholic. I am functioning and making straight A’s. ” Little did I know at the time, that this is the same lie that pretty much every addict tells themselves in the beginning…

Addiction is the only disease that literally tells us that we don’t have a disease.

And yet, WE ALL at one time or another, have thought that we’re in control. “I got this.” lol. Yea right. That, and f@#k it”, are an addicts last words.

 What No One Tells You About Anxiety Disorder and Substance Abuse


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