Substance Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

August 20, 2019 , Agape Treatment Center

substance abuse coupled with bipolar disorder mental healthA large number of people who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction also have co-occurring bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder causes individuals to experience intense mood swings that consist of manic emotional highs and depressive lows. While people with bipolar disorder are more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse, people with no history of mental illness can also develop bipolar disorder as a result of long term drug or alcohol abuse. 

 

When it comes to co-occurring disorders, it is extremely important that both conditions are treated. At Agape, we understand the dire need for effective dual diagnosis treatment to help individuals with addiction and bipolar learn how to live sober and cope with their mental health symptoms.

 

A Deeper Look into Bipolar Disorder

 

Another name for bipolar disorder is manic-depressive illness. It is a brain disorder that is characterized by extreme mood swings, shifts in energy levels, and varying abilities to complete day-to-day obligations. During these mood swings, people with bipolar disorder experience periods of intense emotions, changes in sleep patterns, shifts in activity levels, and unusual behaviors. While a person is having a manic episode they may seem like a completely different person than they do while having a depressive episode. In addition, a person may also experience an episode where they have both manic and depressive symptoms.[1]

 

During a manic episode, a person may have excessive amounts of energy causing them to be more active than usual. They may engage in risky behaviors and make impulsive decisions because they feel invincible. During a depressive episode, on the other hand, a person may have little to no energy and feelings of lethargy. Depressive episodes come with an array of unpleasant emotions, such as hopelessness, depression, and worry. Depressive episodes are also dangerous because there is a risk of suicidal thoughts and self-harm. 

 

People who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder are usually diagnosed with either bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder, with bipolar I being considered less severe.

 

Co-occurring Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

 

Addiction and bipolar disorder frequently go hand in hand. It is estimated that 60.7% of people who suffer from bipolar I disorder also suffer from substance abuse. At the same time, approximately 48.1% of people with bipolar II disorder suffer from a substance use disorder.[2] The comorbidity between bipolar disorder and addiction is significantly higher than that of other common mood disorders. 

 

  • Individuals with bipolar disorder are 14 times more likely to have a substance use disorder
  • Individuals with bipolar disorder are 6 times more likely to have an alcohol use disorder
  • People who suffer from substance abuse are between 4% and 13.5% more likely to experience mania and hypomania compared to the general population [3]

 

Sometimes, people begin to use drugs to extend and intensify their feelings during manic episodes. On the other hand, some will self-medicate their symptoms during depressive episodes, hoping to escape from the hopelessness they feel.

 

Other times, substance abuse comes first. Frequent drug use leads to physical changes within the brain. As a result, the reward system can become rewired, affecting the mood and behavior of the substance abuser. When this happens, drug and alcohol abuse act as a catalyst to make bipolar symptoms develop. Regardless of whether or not addiction or bipolar disorder came first, both disorders make symptoms of addiction and bipolar disorder substantially worse.

 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

 

It is particularly dangerous for bipolar disorder to be left untreated during rehab. If bipolar disorder goes undiagnosed, an individual may continue to suffer from their bipolar symptoms and be more susceptible to relapse. Dual diagnosis treatment is ideal for those suffering from co-occurring bipolar disorder and addiction because it treats both disorders at the same time.[4] 

 

Treating addiction and bipolar disorder requires an integrated approach involving medications and therapy. Combining the right medication to treat bipolar disorder with behavioral therapies are proven to help people who suffer from these conditions to recover. Dual diagnosis treatment takes a whole person approach and usually involves: 

  • Detox
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Medications
  • Support groups
  • Outpatient aftercare

Treating Addiction and Bipolar Disorder at Agape

 

Agape Treatment Center is a dual diagnosis facility that provides individuals who suffer from co-occurring bipolar disorder and addiction with evidence-driven therapy and counseling. With a full spectrum of mental health services, a team of professional addiction specialists, and a comprehensive treatment plan involving multiple levels of care, we strive to arm each and every individual with the tools needed for lasting sobriety. 

 

“Our evidence-driven therapy and counseling methods are based on a belief that each and every individual is worth living a joyous and rewarding life free from the bondage of addiction.”

 

Those who are looking for a dual diagnosis treatment center that consistently provides trustworthy, reliable addiction and mental health treatment should look no further. Agape uses cutting-edge treatment methods, relaxing holistic therapies, and solution-focused methods to help individuals cope with their bipolar symptoms and achieve sobriety. 

 

References: 

  1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/owning-bipolar/201809/the-bipolar-addiction-connection
  3. https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/home/bipolar-disorder-advisor/comorbid-bipolar-disorder-and-substance-abuse-a-challenge-to-diagnose-and-treat/
  4. https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-conditions/related-conditions/dual-diagnosis