Bipolar and Addiction Have Strong Connection

Distressed manImagine feeling on top of the world with a rush of seemingly endless energy, only to crash to the depths of despair and emotional pain a few days later. And now imagine trying to live your life during all this. Is it any wonder so many people with bipolar disorder also develop an addiction? The connection is so strong and the personal stories can be devastating. Tragically, this wildly swinging mood disorder can lead to suicide. You may very well know someone like this – someone who may need complete drug rehab treatment and a new chance at life.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Bipolar disorder has a mix of symptoms, both manic and depressive. Bipolar consists of several emotional “states” that a person goes between.

Depression – symptoms include sad or angry mood, negativity towards themselves and others, sleep problems (too much or too little), change in eating patterns (too much or too little), thoughts of suicide or death, despair, hopelessness, social isolation

Mania – symptoms would be rushed speech, flight of ideas, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, excessive energy, heightened sex drive, reckless behaviors such as spending sprees, crime, dare-devil activities, impulsively, heightened aggression, feeling of invincibility, overestimating their abilities and inflated ego

Hypomania – milder form of mania that may not seem to interfere with daily life, but could easily transition into full mania or crash into depression

Mixed mood – moods can change and cycle rapidly, even within one day

What Does Bipolar and Addiction Look Like Together?

Foundation Associates has several compelling stories from people dually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Sometimes bipolar and addiction is apparent in the teen years, which was the case for one young man who also adopted an addiction lifestyle by that time. Another undiagnosed bipolar addict maxed-out credit cards, did all kinds of reckless behavior, and went missing for days. Yet another bipolar addict experienced years of undiagnosed ADHD and a learning disability along with a cycle of crime and incarceration.

Bipolar Treatment

Bipolar treatment is usually a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. They have lived a life of extremes – extreme behavior, extreme thoughts, and extreme emotions. Therapy and medication help them to learn about living with moderation and balance. Together, treatment can help correct harmful patterns that have been established while the person has gone untreated.

Mood stabilizing medication is the most common “first line of defense” against bipolar symptoms. Frequently used meds include Lithium, Zyprexa and Serequil. Sometimes anti-convulsants such as Depakote are used if Lithium has not worked. When the main bipolar “state” is depression, Wellbutrin can be carefully used for symptom control. It’s crucial that a person is properly diagnosed as bipolar. If anti-depressants are used to treat the depressive cycle of bipolar, they can spur on manic cycles.

Bipolar and Addiction Have Strong Connection

Bipolar disorder and addiction have an alarmingly strong connection. Here are just a few information tidbits to get you thinking.

  • 56% of individual with bipolar disorder have dual diagnosis
  • The depression part of the cycle often leads into drug or alcohol relapse
  • Manic episodes of bipolar increase a person’s lifetime risk for addiction to 4x’s that of the general population.
  • Addiction tends to increase resistence to lithium

The complexities of co-occurring disorders is still not universally understood across the medical and mental health professions. Treating dual diagnoses together is only a recent phenomenon. Can you imagine how many bipolar addicts there must be out there that aren’t well understood and aren’t getting the treatment they desperately need?

Bipolar Dual Diagnosis Treatment at The Canyon

Dual diagnosis treatment at The Canyon is the complete treatment choice for addicts with bipolar disorder. So many people have had just their addiction or the mental disorder treated, leaving many problems untouched. The Canyon takes in the whole picture. Their expert professionals address all the complexities of effective dual diagnosis treatment.

The Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) has support groups and an informative website to check out. The internet hosts a great variety of resources such as bipolar message boards, bipolar online support groups, and bipolar blogs.

Wendy Lee Nentwig

By Wendy Lee Nentwig
Guest Contributor
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