A Common Fact Pattern

I’ve represented several young men with these three characteristics:

  • Bipolar disorder;
  • High IQ; and
  • Homosexuality.

The client is usually between 21 and 30 years old. I’ve been told that bipolar disorder appears in males when they are in their 20s. Often the client had an earlier diagnosis of attention-deficit disorder.

It’s typically the young man’s mother who calls when he is in trouble, and I guess correctly, based on the tone of mom’s voice when she describes her grown son’s criminal problem, that I’ll be dealing with a person with this complex of traits.

I’ve helped these men out of all sorts of nonviolent trouble, but drug cases are most common. Is it because they’re self-medicating the bipolar disorder? One of this group of clients told me once that marijuana worked much better to keep him on an even keel than anything that Big Pharma had cooked up.

No answers here; just a dispatch from the front.

0 responses to “A Common Fact Pattern”

  1. I read an article recently regarding a growing a growing concern that bipolar disorders (formerly called manic depression, it seems) are very, very heavily over-diagnosed and thus very, very heavily over-medicated.

    IMHO, mood altering prerscription drugs are often worse than the underlying condition.

  2. I haven’t seen the article, but I suspect that that’s probably particularly true in the juvenile milieu. When parents have trouble dealing with their kids they too often turn to doctors (and lawyers, in the courts) to do it for them.

  3. The article in question was dealing with adults. I’ll see if I can recall where I saw it. I think in the juvenile arena they diagnose everyone and their dog with ADD.

  4. The lack of access to minimally adequate mental and physical health care is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, contributor to our high crime rate, both violent and non-violent crime and drug-related and non-drug-related crime. And Big Pharma ain’t the solution regardless of the problem. It’s part of the problem, in fact. Corporate socialism is a massive failure.

  5. I had a conversation about this with a psychiatrist recently. From what I gathered (and I’m not saying this nearly as well as she could), bi-polar disorder becomes very noticeable in men around age 18 and 19 and is very unpredictable until after age 25 (sometimes even longer) because of constant developmental changes and hormone levels that are constantly in flux, not to mention life changes that typically occur around the same over these years. It becomes very difficult to get the right combination of meds… often the person is either over medicated and can’t stand the drowsy slump they’re in (sometimes sleeping ~18 hours at a time), or they aren’t medicated enough and their minds are in a racing, manic state and they’re up for days at a time. Most of them hate the over medicated feeling so they don’t take the meds (or they have the wrong Rx or dosage to begin with) and yet they can’t deal with the manic state, so they self medicate with marijuana and alcohol. Xanax has become very popular as well, which is scary because it is highly addictive and really screws a person up if used inappropriately. You’ll see these guys doing great for a couple of months and then suddenly, something is off (they stop taking meds, the most recent dosage isn’t working anymore, etc, etc.), they have a week or two of a manic state and they end up in trouble. Or they’re caught with drugs because, like some have suggested, it just works better than the meds they’re being prescribed. By the time they’re in their 30’s, often their body chemistry becomes more stable and levels out and doctors have better results in finding the right combination of drugs. But it’s a lifelong battle because, although it’s not as frequent in older people, the drugs can stop working for whatever unknown reason at any age and a person can have a breakdown.

  6. On the flip side, it could well be that the drugs are causing the brain problems.

    My best buddy growing up got involved in PCP and other such substances in junior high. (I guess he took the “high” part a little to seriously.) It wasn’t long after that he developed serious Epilepsy, pretty much out of the blue.

    I’ve always been shocked that our society is willing to tag exposure to second hand tobacco smoke, Asbestos, Stachybotrys mold, radiation exposure smaller than that of a dental X-ray, vaccines, and even hormones eaten by farm animals as being the cause of every possible health problem known to man, (and a few known only to dolphins); but it simply assumed that stuffing psycho-active chemicals produced by criminals who are, shall we say, not exactly following the FDA quality control rules, has no long term effects on the brain. I’ve often wondered if the “Parkinsons Clusters” phenominon was due to someone scoring some “good stuff” and sharing it with their buddies at a party.

    We are willing to assume that being at a 1950s atomic test causes tumors that only show themselves forty years later…but I’ve never seen anything about how having stuffed ones head full of LSD, X, Ludes, and/or Heroin during the “summer of love” might impact one’s health, (or one’s children’s health) decades down the road.

    The Brain and its chemistry aren’t totally understood. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the drugs being the cause of the brain disorder, rather than the other way around.

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