The relationship between mental health conditions and substance use disorders is undeniable. On average, up to 50% of people who have a mental health disorder also struggle with substance abuse. The same is true regarding bipolar disorder and substance abuse. Individuals who have bipolar disorder are 7 times more likely to experience drug or alcohol addiction due to the nature of their mental health condition.
As there is a positive correlation between bipolar disorder and substance abuse, the existence, and execution of proper treatment is imperative. When it comes to proper treatment, both disorders must be addressed for the individual to manage their symptoms and achieve sobriety.
Further, treatment for bipolar disorder and substance abuse should be tailored to the individual and their diagnosis. While common symptoms of both disorders exist, everyone experiences these conditions differently.
At 449 Recovery, we assist individuals with managing their co-occurring bipolar disorder and substance abuse issues. Our dual diagnosis program combines bipolar disorder treatment with comprehensive addiction treatment to address both conditions.
By resolving the many underlying issues, our clients can leave behind the maladaptive behaviors that are holding them back from a full and healthy life.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that affects an individual’s mood, energy levels, concentration, and ability to engage in everyday tasks. This mood disorder—formerly known as manic depression—is associated with periods of “highs” and “lows.”
During low periods, the individual experiences what are called depressive episodes. During these episodes a person may feel down and indifferent about life. They will often experience symptoms that are usually associated with depression. The symptoms associated with depressive bipolar episodes are as follows:
- Feelings of depression and anxiety
- Experiencing feelings of restlessness
- Having trouble falling asleep, waking, or excessive sleeping
- Slowed speech, unwillingness to speak at all, and forgetfulness
- Trouble making decisions
- A lack of interest in social activities
- Issues with concentration
- The inability to complete everyday tasks such as bathing
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Suicidal ideation (thinking about death or suicide)
When bipolar individuals experience high periods, they experience what is referred to as manic episodes. During a manic episode, bipolar individuals typically feel a heightened sense of energy, making them talkative and hyperactive with their thoughts. They sometimes become fixated on certain ideas, believing that they are the only solution to their problems. Other signs and symptoms associated with manic bipolar episodes are as follows:
- Having an excessive amount of energy
- Talking quickly and in a scattered manner
- Making reckless decisions
- Having trouble sleeping or a reduced need to sleep
- Feeling overly confident and having grandiose ideas
- Engaging in risky behavior, such as drinking alcohol or taking drugs
- Feelings of irritability
- Racing thoughts
- An increased appetite for food or other pleasurable activities
- Delusions of grandeur
While the two types of bipolar episodes seem the opposite, they can also occur at the same time. This is known as “mixed bipolar episodes.” During a mixed bipolar episode, someone can experience symptoms of both mania and depression simultaneously, such as feeling excessively energized but also hopeless or irritable at the same time.
There is evidence that frequent drug abuse can cause a person to develop bipolar disorder. It is no secret that drug abuse causes changes in the brain. These changes generally occur in the brain’s reward system which causes compulsive drug-seeking behavior. However, drugs may also play a part in rewiring the parts of the brain that affect mood and behavior.
For people who already have bipolar disorder, drug abuse also poses a significant risk of worsening their condition. While individuals may use drugs in an attempt to stabilize their moods, substance abuse may make symptoms worse. The length of manic and depressive episodes can be lengthened by drug abuse. Additionally, the symptoms individual experiences can become more severe.
According to the National Library of Medicine, substance-induced bipolar may be resolved with treatment. However, if a person was already predisposed to bipolar and was going to develop it anyways, they will need to manage their condition throughout their life. This is because substance abuse, in some cases, may make bipolar disorder rise to the surface versus cause it directly.
Dual diagnosis can be dangerous if the underlying mental health disorder is not treated along with the addiction. Without proper treatment, individuals may experience an increase in their symptoms and may be at greater risk for relapse or self-harm. Additionally, without comprehensive care that addresses both aspects of dual diagnosis, individuals may struggle to maintain long-term sobriety or mental health wellness.
Thus, it is important for individuals who are facing a dual diagnosis to seek out treatment that incorporates strategies to address both aspects of the disorder. By doing so, individuals have an increased likelihood of achieving long-term sobriety and improved mental health overall.
There are multiple types of bipolar disorder. These different types differ in severity, the number of bipolar episodes experienced and the types of bipolar symptoms one may experience. The different types of bipolar are as follows:
When an individual has bipolar I, they experience severe changes in mood ranging from mania to depression. Within this type of bipolar, a person will have severe manic episodes, which is when someone has extremely high moods that last for a week or more.
Bipolar II is similar to bipolar I but instead involves longer periods of severe depression and shorter periods of hypomania, which is a milder form of mania that occurs during bipolar episodes.
Cyclothymic disorder is when individuals experience depressive and hypomanic episodes that last for at least two years.
Rapid cycling bipolar disorder is when someone experiences four or more bipolar episodes in a year. These episodes may last days or a few hours as the individual’s mood cycles from high to low.
When a person has bipolar disorder, this does not mean that they will always have a substance use disorder. Unfortunately, however, there is a strong correlation between bipolar disorder and substance abuse. This is known as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis which means that both bipolar disorder and substance use disorder exist together in the same person.
The combination of bipolar disorder and substance abuse can be particularly dangerous; not only do bipolar individuals risk harming themselves through their risky behavior, but they also have an increased risk of developing other mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression. Additionally, bipolar individuals are at a higher risk of suicide than the general population.
If you are experiencing bipolar disorder and engaging in substance abuse, a dual diagnosis program at a drug addiction and bipolar disorder treatment center can help. A bipolar disorder treatment center can provide comprehensive care that includes psychotherapy, medication management, and other services to address bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
When it comes to treatment for bipolar disorder and substance abuse, there are a few forms of treatment that have been proven to be highly effective. These include various types of therapy and, for some, medication.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a combination of medication and counseling that can help bipolar individuals manage their symptoms. Certain medications are effective in treating the mood changes that occur during manic and depressive episodes. It is important to note that different bipolar medications may pose an increased risk for substance abuse, so it is important to discuss these risks with your doctor before starting any bipolar medication.
Another component of bipolar disorder and substance abuse treatment is therapy. Therapy is an important part of bipolar disorder treatment and can help individuals manage their symptoms of bipolar disorder more effectively. A bipolar disorder treatment center will typically utilize several different types of therapy, including:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, focuses on challenging and changing maladaptive thoughts and behaviors. This type of therapy helps bipolar individuals understand their bipolar disorder triggers, manage their bipolar symptoms, and learn strategies for coping more effectively with bipolar episodes.
- Dialectical-Behavior Therapy (DBT): Dialectical-behavior therapy, also known as DBT, combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness practices. This type of bipolar therapy helps bipolar individuals improve emotion regulation skills, reduce impulsive behaviors, and work through interpersonal conflicts more effectively.
- Psychoeducation: Psychoeducation is a type of bipolar treatment that focuses on providing bipolar individuals with mental health education. This bipolar therapy helps bipolar individuals understand the nature of mood disorders, recognize their bipolar disorder triggers, and learn how to effectively manage bipolar episodes.
- Interpersonal Therapy: During interpersonal therapy, bipolar individuals work with therapists to explore and improve interpersonal relationships. This bipolar treatment focuses on bipolar individuals improving communication skills, managing their emotions in relationships, developing problem-solving strategies, and learning how to set boundaries.
The therapeutic interventions that will work best for an individual will vary from case to case. As with most things in life, there is no one-size fits all bipolar disorder and substance abuse treatment plan. Bipolar individuals should work with a qualified mental health professional to develop an individualized bipolar treatment program that incorporates both bipolar disorder therapy and proper medication management.
At 449 Recovery in Southern California, we offer treatment for bipolar disorder and co-occurring substance use disorders. When you come to us for treatment, we get to the root of the problem, leaving no room for error. With every factor and cause of your current condition accounted for, we tailor treatment plans to suit your needs and guide you on the path to recovery.
We understand bipolar disorder, substance abuse, and its effects. Our team of medical professionals is dedicated to helping bipolar individuals identify triggers that can lead to manic depressive episodes and violent or destructive behavior.
We also provide education and counseling sessions on bipolar disorder, substance abuse, addiction, and mental illness. Our bipolar disorder treatment center is here to provide you with the support you need on your journey toward recovery and healthier life. To learn more, contact us today.
Dr. Warren Taff MD, graduated from the University of Birmingham, England School of Medicine, with a BA from Rutgers University. He then went on to UCLA School of Public Health in Los Angeles Health and Human Services and received an MPH. He also attended an internship in internal medicine, with the Veterans Administration. Dr. Taff’s residency includes General Psychiatry at USC, with elective residencies at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and Royal College of Psychiatry. Board certifications include American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Taff has extensive experience in both psychiatry and addiction medicine, extending from 1979 to present. He has held professional titles that include Chief of Staff and Medical Directorship in both hospitals and private sectors.