Addiction is not uncommon in individuals with bipolar disorder. In fact, the American Journal of Managed Care presents results from several studies concluding that substance abuse or alcoholism is present in 56-71% of persons diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Who Do You Know with Bipolar Disorder?
Have you ever known someone with bipolar disorder? Chances are that you have – but may or may not know it. This serious health condition is characterized by “sudden and intense shifts in mood, behavior and energy levels” (dualdiagnosis.org) and may be affecting many people in your personal and professional circles.
What is Bipolar Disorder Like?
People with bipolar disorder are typically able to seemingly blend in with society, often admired as overachievers and for their great personalities. Behind the scenes, however, they may be sleeping for days at a time and seriously contemplating suicide as the only answer (in their minds) to ending their pain and misery.
It’s a Rollercoaster Ride and It’s Exhausting
The condition alternates between mania and depression, sometimes presenting itself in ‘mixed episodes’ where, for example, “withdrawal symptoms and thoughts of suicide may be present, combined with racing thoughts and lack of sleep.” Often, this is when a person with bipolar turns to drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate, with hopes that the substance of choice will calm their mania or drown out the feelings of depression. Unfortunately, the drugs and/or alcohol only exacerbate the condition, leading them to more drugs and/or alcohol, making addiction almost inevitable.
Treating Bipolar Disorder and Addiction
Just like many other dual-diagnoses, bipolar disorder and addiction requires an integrated treatment plan. Failure to treat both significantly increases the risk of relapse and can be very dangerous. For instance, an addicted individual may visit a mental health professional and receive medication to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder without mentioning the recreational substances that they are also consuming/using. The medications given for bipolar disorder are often given in high dosages and are known to have adverse effects when mixed with drugs or alcohol.
Integrated treatment may include the following (dualdiagnosis.org.)
- Centralized care provided in a single rehabilitation facility
- A collaborative treatment team that includes psychologists, addiction counselors, and other professionals trained in Dual Diagnosis care
- Individual psychotherapy that focuses on managing your emotions and minimizing the risk of substance abuse
- Psychiatric medication to help you handle the ups and downs of bipolar disorder
- Peer group support from others who are battling addiction and a mood disorder
Getting Help for Bipolar Disorder and Addiction
Bipolar Disorder is a serious medical condition that can only be diagnosed by a trained professional. If you think you are struggling with bipolar disorder and/or addiction, it is important that you seek out professional help. At Sober Houston, we can help you find an integrated treatment option that best fits your needs. Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.