Last year I wrote about my son’s ongoing battle with drugs and how a mental disorder can lead to drug abuse. In the book I described how difficult it is for someone with a disorder to control their use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol or medications. The symptoms can range from moderate to severe, with addiction being the most dangerous.  My book, Bewitched, Bothered and Bipolar, is largely focused on bipolar because I was finally forced to accept that I also suffer from bipolar, and I felt it was possible that I had passed it down to my own family. I also talk about other so-called disorders such as Asperger’s etc.


After all the research that I did, I came to the conclusion that these disorders are not always inherited but can be brought about by many factors including childhood difficulties and traumas. The research also confirmed that, although people often become addicts because of their inability to cope with the extremes of their condition, they are often people gifted with highly creative capabilities that add much to society. The question is, should such disorders be treated as mental illness or accepted as a sign that we are all different?  Nevertheless, people who are different can often be ostracised by society. Shouldn’t they instead be nurtured not only for the price they pay for their contributions to humankind, but also receive consideration during the more negative aspects of their mood extremisms, instead of frequently being locked away?


I also found that people, with what are termed as mental disorders such as anxiety, depression or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), will be more likely to use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. Naturally if this appears to provide some type of relief, even temporarily, it will become habitual. However, these drugs may also make the symptoms worse over time, and in a young brain can lead to psychosis – a problem that has now become prevalent in our society.


The cannabis of old that everyone merrily smoked in the 60’s has since become a far more powerful substance. And brain changes in those with a mental disorder may enhance the rewarding effect of drugs, thereby making it more likely they will continue the habit and become addicts.  Their drug or alcohol abuse may even trigger changes in their brains, especially when they are young, affecting the neurons and thereby making them more likely to develop a mental disorder.


It seems the price we are paying for technology has made us impatient, narcissistic and less tolerant of others. Our growing dependence on technologies has increasingly made us feel victimised, powerless and obsessed with instant gratification. We are losing our ability to form human bonds, only facilitated by the recent Covid lockdowns. Substance abuse could be felt by some, then, to be a solution.


by Judy Lanteigne



‘Bewitched Bothered and Bipolar’ is now available at bookshops, online and at: