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Bipolar and Addiction

Bipolar and addictionBipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects the way you think, feel and behave. Bipolar disorder is also known as “manic depression.” This condition leads to extreme changes in mood and energy levels.

While it’s normal to experience changes in your emotional states, a person with bipolar disorder faces unmanageable mood swings. This can affect his or her relationships, career and physical health. Mania is a high-energy state that may increase risk-taking behavior. Depression can inspire suicidal thoughts.

Substance abuse affects up to 60 percent of people who have bipolar disorder, according to the journal Bipolar Disorders. In order for you to achieve a full, rewarding life in recovery, both bipolar disorder and substance abuse must be addressed in rehab. Co-occurring disorders require a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment that helps you achieve stability and health in mind and body.

Warning Signs

The patterns of bipolar disorder vary from one person to another. Because of this, it’s not always easy to recognize this condition. An individual may have intense, dangerous manic episodes that lead into a crash into deep despair. This same individual may then go for weeks or months without having any bipolar symptoms at some point. Then again, she may face strong mood swings several times a day.

Some symptoms of mania include:

  • Extended periods of feeling emotionally high or energetic
  • A long period of feeling overly irritable, agitated or jumpy
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inability to sleep
  • Impulsive behavior, such as going on a shopping spree
  • Risk-taking behavior, such as unprotected sex, drug or alcohol abuse

According to the National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI), bipolar disorder can occur at any point in life. Every year, 2.9% of the U.S. population faces a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and 83% of the cases are classified as severe.[1]

Watch for these warning signs of a depressive state:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or despair
  • Absence of pleasure in activities you usually enjoy
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Unwanted weight loss or gain
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide
  • Drinking or using drugs to relieve sadness[2]

If you have frequent mood swings or you feel that your emotional states lead to substance abuse, it’s crucial to seek help. It is best to seek help from a treatment center that specializes in co-occurring conditions.

Substance Abuse

bipolar substance abuseAddiction and bipolar disorder often overlap. In fact, many of the symptoms of chemical dependence resemble bipolar disorder.You may have bipolar disorder that has not been diagnosed or effectively treated. As a result, you may use drugs or alcohol to try to regulate their own moods. When you feel agitated, irritable or jubilantly energetic, you may use alcohol to calm yourself down. Ultimately, these drugs only worsen bipolar disorder and make it harder to function in your daily life.

People who suffer from bipolar disorder and a substance use issue may have more extreme symptoms than those who don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.[3] If you have a Dual Diagnosis of bipolar disorder and an addiction, you may be more likely to experience symptoms such as:

  • Irritable or agitated moods
  • Depressed (“dysphoric”) moods
  • Resistance to therapeutic help
  • A more frequent need for hospitalization

Suicide attempts and intentional self-injury are common in bipolar individuals, especially if a low mood is accompanied by alcohol or drug use. During a manic period, high-risk behaviors such as drug use, driving under the influence and participation in drug-related crimes are more common.


If you have a Dual Diagnosis, you may feel that your moods and your chemical dependence control your life.

No matter how much you may want to achieve a stable, sober state of mind, your co-occurring conditions may make this goal seem impossible. When you attend a drug rehab program, therapists or psychiatrists are available to help you manage your moods through intensive counseling, group therapy and medication. Addiction specialists can help you identify the emotional patterns and negative behaviors that keep you stuck in a cycle of substance abuse.

Bipolar disorder can make recovery from drug or alcohol addiction even more challenging. Some of the hurdles that bipolar patients face during drug rehab include:

  • Low motivation to participate when feeling low
  • Edginess and irritability during manic periods
  • Resistance to compliance with prescription medications
  • Lack of financial resources or transportation due to underemployment

Bipolar disorder is a complex illness. Many times bipolar disorder goes hand in hand with other medical or psychological disorders. It is important to identify the best way to treat your psychological symptoms and your chemical dependence. The Canyon specializes in providing integrated, holistic recovery solutions for those who suffer from co-occurring conditions like bipolar disorder. Call now and you will speak to one of our professionally trained counselors. We will gladly give you information treatment. Get the help you need so you can look forward to a healthy, rewarding future.

[1] Bipolar Disorder.

[2] Bipolar Disorder.

[3] The relationship between substance abuse and bipolar disorder. Brady, KT.