Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Many mental conditions co-occur alongside addiction, including bipolar disorder. Coping with multiple disorders can be daunting at once. However, there are many ways to manage bipolar symptoms and maintain recovery. In order to achieve recovery, you must seek treatment for all disorders involved.

The symptoms of mental illnesses and addiction exacerbate each other. Many individuals with addiction experience symptoms of mental illness. This can be caused by chemical and structural changes in the brain. Other people turn to substance or behavioral addictions to manage their mental illness symptoms. Seek treatment immediately if you feel you are in either situation.

Types of Addictions

Before discussing bipolar disorder, it may help to learn more about addiction. Addiction encompasses many struggles, including behavioral addiction and substance use disorders (SUDs).

Behavioral Addiction

When people become dependent on a specific activity or compulsion, behavioral addiction occurs. People can become addicted to the internet, gambling, sex, food, and even activities like shopping. Some downplay the dangers of behavioral addiction, but they can be as debilitating and cause as many problems as a SUD.

Alcohol Addiction

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines alcohol use disorder (AUD) as a “medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” AUD is sometimes referred to as alcohol abuse, alcoholism, or alcohol dependency. According to NIAAA, a national survey conducted in 2019 indicated that 14.1 million adults struggled with AUD.

Drug Addiction

For many, drug use can become a mental illness, causing physical changes in the brain. These changes make it hard to quit drug use.  Diagnoses can include opioid use disorder, sedative use disorder, and stimulant use disorder. Not only does drug addiction cause physical, emotional, and psychological harm, but it can also lead to overdose and death.

Bipolar Disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) describes bipolar disorder as a “mental illness that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” It affects approximately 2.8% of the American population and consists of three distinct subtypes:

#1. Bipolar I consists of manic episodes lasting a minimum of seven days or severe manic symptoms that an individual requires “immediate hospital care.” Depressive episodes will also typically occur for at least two weeks. It is also possible to experience mixed episodes that include depressive and manic symptoms.

#2. Bipolar II includes a “pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes.” However, these episodes are less severe than manic episodes and last for shorter periods.

#3. Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, consists of “recurrent hypomanic and depressive symptoms that are not intense enough or do not last long enough” to be considered hypomanic or depressive episodes.

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Indicators of bipolar disorder vary depending on the category. Symptoms of mania include sleeping less, high energy, racing thoughts, or increased self-esteem. Hypomania symptoms are similar but tend to be less intense. Depressive symptoms include sleeplessness, anhedonia, self-hatred, hopelessness, or suicidality.

If you recognize some of these signs or behaviors within yourself, consult a doctor. They will help guide you through the evaluation process. You might find out that you have a different diagnosis than bipolar disorder. There’s a lot of crossover between diagnoses. However, you might also receive an official bipolar disorder diagnosis. In this case, you know the path of treatment to follow.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Many people with bipolar disorder use substances or behaviors to self-medicate. Bipolar disorder can cause anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping. People think drugs and alcohol can help them cope. However, this is counterproductive for many reasons. Namely, substance use can trigger depressive or manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder.

When you’re first getting diagnosed with these disorders, it can feel overwhelming. Experiencing bipolar disorder and addiction diagnosis together can feel scary. Treatment can seem impossible, but you are not alone. You can achieve recovery for both conditions.

Your treatment should integrate therapy for bipolar disorder and addiction. Treating both conditions together is vital. If you treat one but not the other, it will exacerbate whichever diagnosis you’re neglecting. Through assessments, professionals can create a comprehensive treatment plan.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

When a person experiences two or more mental illnesses at the same time, this is called a dual diagnosis. As mentioned, bipolar disorder and addiction often occur together. Dual-diagnosis treatment programs are ideal when handling these two conditions at the same time.

The treatment plan will look slightly different depending on the kind of addiction. However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides an idea of what to expect. SAMHSA states in a 2016 document, “Like treatment for bipolar disorder without a co-occurring SUD, treatment for co-occurring bipolar disorder and SUDs usually involves both pharmacological and psychosocial therapies.”

A reputable treatment program will also provide you and your family with more psychoeducation. Knowing the connection between addiction and bipolar disorder is vital to your recovery success.

Many people are trying to cope with SUD and bipolar disorder simultaneously, but treatment and recovery are possible. Through assessments, education, and a proper dual diagnosis, you can get a handle on your SUD and bipolar disorder. Excel Treatment Center provides all that and more. Our team provides the very best care available. Every client goes through a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and symptom monitoring. With this, we can track your progress. Additionally, you can participate in a variety of psychosocial therapies meant to help you heal. You don’t have to go through this alone, either. Your family can participate in our family program, which can help them come to terms with your diagnosis. For treatment, call us at (833) 883-9235

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