Bipolar disorder is a mental health issue that is experienced by around one in one hundred individuals, and we commonly encounter it in conjunction with some form of addiction. It is a cyclic mood disorder that involves transiently manic moods that give way to extreme depression or anxiety, though some people will experience more of one type of mood than the other type. Importantly, both the high and low phases of the disorder can increase your desire for drugs or alcohol; feeling manic is often associated with an increased willingness to take reckless risks, while the depressive lows of bipolar disorder can lead to substance abuse in an attempt to find escapism or to recreate the previous highs. The other side of the coin is that abusing drugs or alcohol can itself increase your likelihood of developing some form of mental illness if you are already at risk. This means that although mental illness may prompt substance abuse in some people, substance abuse may also lead to the first emergence of mental illness in others.

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

If you are suffering from bipolar disorder as well as addiction, WhiteSands Treatment Center can help you to tackle both of these problems and dramatically improve your quality of life. However, the first step is to learn how to identify this particular mental health problem. The following are the major signs and symptoms:

  • Depressive episodes: These episodes will generally involve feelings of lethargy, sadness, lack of interest in things that were previously significant or pleasurable, and feelings of worthlessness. You may also feel disproportionately guilty and entertain suicidal thoughts.
  • Manic episodes: When you are going through a manic phase, you may find that you are excitable, happy, confident and more impulsive than usual. For example, you may want to spend a lot of money on lavish purchases, feel less interested in sleeping, and talk at a high speed. Some people also become somewhat delusional during a manic phase.
  • Strained relationships: People with bipolar disorder often alienate their loved ones with their extreme actions and unpredictable behaviors, and may find it very difficult to understand why friends and family are so hurt and confused.

Signs and symptoms of abuse and addiction

If you are wondering whether you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, ask yourself the following questions. Try to be honest when considering your answers.

  • Do you have difficulty cutting back on drinking or drug use, even when you intend to cut back?
  • Do you mislead others about the extent or frequency of your drinking or drug use?
  • Have you been involved in uncomfortable conversations with friends or family because they are concerned about your use of alcohol or drugs?
  • Do you regularly regret how you have behaved when drunk or high, or suffer from blackouts that leave you feeling confused about how you have acted?
  • Is your performance at work or school suffering due to your use of drugs or alcohol?
  • Has your mental or physical health decreased in connection with drugs or alcohol?
  • Do you feel unwell if you go without drugs or alcohol for more than a day?
  • Have you failed to fulfil important obligations because you were drunk, suffering from a hangover, high, or on a comedown?

If you have answered “yes” to more than one of these questions, it is highly likely that you have an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol.

Treating bipolar disorder and substance abuse at WhiteSands

If you suffer from a mental illness in conjunction with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, this is called a co-occurring disorder and it makes you an ideal candidate for a dual diagnosis treatment program. This type of program takes an integrated approach to treatment, addressing both the symptoms caused by the mental illness and those intimately connected with the substance abuse problem. We will offer you the following:

  • Inpatient medical detox to slowly and carefully help your body and mind to adjust to withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. You will be constantly monitored by an expert team of doctors and nurses who will design a customized treatment plan that maximizes your chances of recovery.
  • Appropriate medication to help control manic and depressive episodes. We will closely track your progress and find the dose that works for you.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy specifically designed for dual diagnosis patients who have bipolar disorder. This will help you to identify specific things that trigger mood swings and substance abuse. Although the precise cause of bipolar disorder is as yet unknown, it is suspected that high stress levels and emotional problems can trigger an episode, and the same is true of drug and alcohol addiction. Therapy will also teach you how to notice the early warning signs that a manic or depressive episode may be forthcoming.
  • Education for you and your loved ones that will help you to understand the complex nature of addiction, and that will teach you how drugs and alcohol can interact with mental health problems.
  • A family therapy program that focuses on healing damaged bonds and on helping those closest to you come to terms with the past. We have had great success in bringing families closer in the wake of pain caused by addiction and mental illness.
  • A supportive, open community where you can share your experiences with others, take part in regular exercise and enjoy other recreational activities.
  • An aftercare plan that will help you to adjust to life outside the treatment center and reduce the risk of relapse. Depending on your specific situation and needs, this may include community meetings, partial hospitalization, or a stay in our sober living community.

Get help now

If you know or fear that you are suffering from bipolar disorder and are struggling with substance abuse, take the first step towards recovery today. You can call WhiteSands Treatment at 877-855-3470 to speak to a member of our professional and compassionate team who can tell you more about our dual diagnosis treatment programs. We are available around the clock to answer your questions.