What Is the Bridge Between Alcoholism and Recovery?

August 30, 2023 Martyn Armstrong

There is a bridge from alcoholism to recovery. I could best describe my active alcoholism as a series of flaming dumpster fires and broken, smoldering bridges. Conversely, my recovery is more about building new bridges and slowly dusting off the debris from the burned ones from my past. For me, regular self-evaluation helps me pinpoint my mental health status. I do this because better mental health bridges the gap between my recovery and alcoholism.

What Came First? Alcoholism or Poor Mental Health?

This is the chicken and the egg conundrum regarding addiction -- which came first? Did I have a mental condition before alcoholism, or did my addiction cause or exasperate an underlying condition?

I'm almost certain that I've always had mental health issues and can recall feeling this from a young age. I couldn't form this into words at five, but I knew something was different about me.

A study into the relationship between alcoholism and psychiatric conditions also notes the difficulty in assessing and separating the two diagnoses.1

The practical way to start is by removing alcohol from the equation to see what remains -- and I remember feeling anxious about what would be left.

My Mental Health Diagnosis Started to Build the Bridge from Alcoholism to Recovery

In my previous HealthyPlace blog, I discussed how Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) got me through the early stages of recovery. However, I never felt that glowing feeling everyone else seemed to be enjoying.

Part of my alcoholism treatment was regular sessions with a psychiatrist who had experience with addiction and dual diagnosis. Everything fell into place after a few months of adjusting medication and in-depth appointments. Several irrational incidents and experiences from my past now had more context.

A heavy weight lifted off my shoulders. The best way I can describe it was an awakening. Better mental health was my true bridge from alcoholism to recovery.

The Bridge from Alcoholism to Recovery: Improved Mental Health

I no longer attend AA meetings but continue with biannual therapy sessions. More importantly -- I consistently use self-evaluation checks to gauge where my head is, especially if I feel unnecessary shame or fear.

Ultimately, I'm accountable for the quality of my mental health. I'm not mentally ill because treatment is in place. I have a support system and people I can turn to if addiction issues crop up.

There's a freedom that comes with acceptance and accountability. I'm building bridges -- each day in sobriety gets me closer to the other side.


  1. Shivani, R. (2002). Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders: Diagnostic challenges. PubMed Central (PMC).

APA Reference
Armstrong, M. (2023, August 30). What Is the Bridge Between Alcoholism and Recovery?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Martyn Armstrong

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