Bipolar Disorder Treatment and Addiction

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a clinical diagnosis describing the effects of a chemical imbalance within the brain that creates unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. A bipolar individual who has not been treated medically may seek drugs and alcohol to manage fluctuating moods and symptoms.

Drugs and alcohol will make symptoms of bipolar worse, causing great difficulty for the sufferer. The disorder’s extreme highs and lows can lead to inflated perception of self or suicidal thoughts. There is a high correlation between bipolar and addiction.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be extremely debilitating, causing significant distress in social, occupational, educational and relational functioning.

Bipolar disorder includes both manic and depressive symptoms:

  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Racing thoughts
  • High distractibility
  • Insomnia
  • Impulsivity
  • Extra energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Sadness or feeling empty
  • Sleep problems or loss of energy
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating

Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

People diagnosed with bipolar disorder commonly abuse opiates, cocaine and alcohol. The bipolar mania offers a natural high similar to being on cocaine and bipolar individuals may look for cocaine to produce extra energy when mania ends. Some may experience their mania coupled with insomnia, which can have a negative impact on cognitive function. The addict may use alcohol to help slow down the mania but, unfortunately, alcohol continues to cloud cognitive function. Individuals with bipolar also use alcohol to escape the extreme sadness and feelings of despair associated with bipolar depressive episodes. Alcohol, cocaine and opiates are interchangeable abused substances based on the individual’s preference of choice.

No matter a person’s substance of choice, using drugs or alcohol to control mood swings is unhealthy and can lead to unwanted dependency. Substance abuse complicates the symptoms of bipolar disorder and makes bipolar medications ineffective. Some addicts neglect to take their medications and many use their money to purchase drugs or alcohol instead of prescriptions. It is best for the bipolar addict to enter addiction treatment for dual diagnosis to stabilize mood while eliminating substance abuse.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment

The longer an addicted bipolar individual goes without treatment, the more difficult it is to achieve abstinence from substances and maintain stability. Bipolar treatment can be successful only when drug and alcohol addiction and other co-occurring disorders are treated together within the context of dual diagnosis treatment, inpatient detox and drug rehab.