The Connection Between Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Much has been discovered in recent years about the links between mental health conditions and substance use disorders.  Mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder frequently co-occur in individuals who suffer from addiction and one condition can increase the risk of the other. If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they could be at increased risk of substance abuse as well.

The reasons for this are complex.  In some cases, people use drugs and alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate and cope with a mental health struggle.  In some cases, substance abuse causes symptoms of mental health issues.  In many cases, substance use disorder and mental health conditions result from the same underlying causes like genetics or exposure to trauma early in life.  For people suffering from co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders like bipolar, dual diagnosis treatment addresses both conditions simultaneously helping people to achieve lasting and fundamental change.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at 877.969.1993 to learn how we can help.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, can be a severe health challenge, one that not only raises the risk of substance abuse but several other problems as well. Some startling statistics about the link between bipolar and substance use disorder include:

  • More than half of bipolar sufferers had also experienced problems with substance abuse
  • More than four in 10 bipolar sufferers had serious drinking problems
  • Alcohol was the most commonly used substance among those with bipolar disorder
  • Some 25 percent of adults with mental illness also struggle with some form of substance abuse

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder can manifest in several different ways, some more subtle than others. Here are some of the most common symptoms of bipolar disorder:

  • Sudden and intense changes in mood
  • Bouts of euphoria followed by periods of black depression
  • Feelings of lethargy and disconnection

Theories on the Relationship Between Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Scientists have many theories surrounding the apparent link between bipolar disorder, excessive alcohol use, drug addiction, and other forms of substance abuse. Many of these theories are being actively studied in laboratory conditions, including the use of sophisticated medical technologies, while others are based more on anecdotal evidence.

Here are some of the current thoughts on why bipolar disorder and substance use seem to be so closely linked:

  • Undiagnosed bipolar sufferers may instinctively know there is something wrong with their brains and try to self-medicate the problem with alcohol or drugs.
  • Bipolar disorder changes certain structures in the brain, increasing the risk of addiction from even the casual use of drugs or alcohol.
  • The medications used to treat bipolar can sometimes be addictive, creating another pathway to substance use disorder.
  • The depression associated with bipolar disorder can lead to bouts of illegal drug use designed to blunt those feelings and restore a sense of normalcy.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

The existence of co-occurring disorders and the presence of underlying mental health challenges are all too common among drug addicts, alcoholics, and others suffering from substance use disorder. No matter what form it takes or what types of substance use it entails, addiction rarely arises out of a vacuum. That is why it is so critical for dual diagnosis treatment to address all of the issues at play – not only the most obvious one.

To be effective for the long term, drug and alcohol treatment must address the root causes of the substance use, not just the substance use itself. At WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, we work hard to help all of our clients understand the factors that caused them to use drugs in the first place, giving them a unique insight into where they have been, where they are, and where they want to go next.

If you are ready to address all of your issues, including your bipolar disorder, any other co-occurring disorders, and the substance abuse it has caused, all it takes to get started is a single phone call. So please pick up the phone, give the staff at WhiteSands a call and take the first step to a better life with our dual diagnosis treatments.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.