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Understanding Bipolar and Drug Addiction Treatment

Substance abuse disorder and bipolar disorder are often simultaneously experienced. In fact, those living with bipolar disorder are more likely to experience drug addiction than those without a mental health disorder.

Affecting nearly 5.7 million Americans, bipolar disorder is one of the more common mental health diagnoses. It can occur in four forms, including bipolar I, II, cyclothymia, and unspecified bipolar.

While bipolar disorder affects a relatively large portion of the adult population, drug addiction is also a common issue that continues to rise in the United States.

Millions of Americans are affected by drug addiction in some way, whether it’s alcohol, opioids, cocaine, heroin, or another type of illicit substance.

If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder or are showing symptoms consistent with the condition and struggling with drug addiction, our addiction specialists are here to help.

Let’s explore all bipolar and drug addiction treatment in more detail. 

First, What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition known for its extreme mood shifts, or “highs’ and “lows.”

Bipolar disorder includes episodes of mania, or highly elevated moods, and depression, or low moods.

Often, people with bipolar disorder resort to alcohol or drug use to mask their symptoms and try to regulate their mood. This quickly leads to drug addiction and does not help to manage their underlying bipolar symptoms.

Currently, there is no cure for bipolar disorder or addiction, but many effective treatment options are available to help regulate mood and stay sober.

Bipolar Types

There are four main types of bipolar disorder:

1. Bipolar I

This type is characterized by one or more manic episodes that last for a week or more and are severe enough to require professional treatment. People with this type do not experience depressive episodes.

2. Bipolar II

This type involves mood changes but does not include mania episodes.

3. Cyclothymia

This type involves repetitive mood shifts between hypomania and depression that last two years or longer.

4. Unspecified Bipolar Disorder

As its name suggests, this type occurs when patient symptoms cannot be specified but match the main symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of a Manic Episode

Mania, or hypomania, is one of the most common first signs of a bipolar diagnosis.

Mania symptoms include

  • racing thoughts
  • euphoria
  • difficulty focusing
  • hyperactivity
  • irritability
  • sleep pattern disruptions, including the inability to sleep
  • impulsivity
  • risky behaviors such as substance use
  • hallucinations
  • delusions

Symptoms of a Depressive Episode

Depressive episodes are another common and opposite symptom of a bipolar diagnosis. They often occur abruptly and can last days to weeks.

Depressive symptoms include

  • overwhelming sadness
  • sleep pattern disruptions
  • extreme fatigue
  • loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • anxiety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • chronic pain
  • appetite and weight changes
  • suicidal thoughts

Understanding Bipolar and Addiction

Addiction is often a coexisting condition of bipolar disorder, affecting 30 to 50% of all those diagnosed with bipolar.

Addiction becomes apparent when those with bipolar disorder choose to medicate and dull their symptoms with drugs or alcohol, quickly leading to substance use disorder.

Unfortunately, for most, bipolar disorder symptoms become worse with substance use. Those with bipolar and addiction can experience

  • increased intensity of manic and depressive symptoms
  • more frequent mood swings
  • more extended periods of emotional instability
  • increased suicide attempts
  • diminished quality of life

Effective Bipolar and Drug Addiction Treatment

Although bipolar and addiction are different disorders, they are often treated together to reduce overall symptoms quickly and effectively.

It is important to note that treating bipolar disorder and addiction is often complex. For most, a successful outcome requires personalized and intensive attention to the symptoms of bipolar and the behaviors associated with addiction.

Dual diagnosis treatment is more successful for most, as both conditions are treated simultaneously within the same program and facility by a trained group of mental health and addiction specialists.

If you or a loved one is struggling with bipolar, addiction, or any other type of mood disorder, our experienced team at Alpine Recovery Lodge is here to help you through it all.

Your sobriety and mental health matter to us. Contact us today to get the help you need sooner.