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Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Once known as manic depression, bipolar disorder can coexist with a drug or alcohol addiction. Bipolar disorder causes mood swings that range from extreme highs to extreme lows. These episodes can occur several times a week or only a few times a year. Having the disorder causes significant changes in concentration and energy. Learn why the two can overlap and statistics available for substance abuse and co-occurring mental illness.


Information on Drug Addiction and Mental Illness

Approximately 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder have some history of substance abuse. Even though it’s not entirely understood why there’s such a high prevalence of mental illness, especially bipolar, it can exacerbate bipolar symptoms. People with no history of mental illness can develop bipolar as a result of drug abuse. 

Imbalanced brain chemicals, along with genetics, can lead to bipolar disorder. Another cause could be from trauma, which could set up a pattern of addiction, thus making bipolar worse. These two disorders can lead to financial and legal problems, relationship troubles, and suicide. 


Substance-Induced Bipolar Disorder

Drug addiction causes changes in the brain, with the main difference being in the brain reward system; this is what makes using drugs feel pleasurable. But, it has a dark side, where the brain becomes used to that feeling and wants more, leading to abusing drugs. Drugs also rewire other parts of the brain that affect both mood and behavior, which can lead to developing bipolar.

This is why it’s crucial someone diagnosed with bipolar disorders stay away from using drugs. If there’s a co-occurring addiction, it can increase the symptoms of bipolar.


Co-Symptoms of Bipolar and Addiction

Symptoms of bipolar can mimic those of drug addiction. Someone being manic can act and look like someone taking cocaine. They both cause an elevated mood and energy and show the same symptoms as withdrawal. Manic episodes have the following symptoms:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Short attention span
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inflated sense of self-confidence
  • Risky behavior
  • Preoccupation with a specific goal
  • Extreme talkativeness
  • Decreased need for sleep

Major depressive symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Weight loss of gain
  • Having a sense of worthlessness
  • Excessive feelings of guilt
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling fatigued daily
  • Thoughts of death and suicide
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities


Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Medication & Therapy

For people dealing with bipolar and addiction, several medications can help with withdrawals and episodic symptoms. These meds include ones such as antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, and lithium and help with mood shifts that bring equilibrium to someone’s life.

It’s integral for someone that has bipolar disorder and is addicted to drugs to get therapy and treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is helpful to start with and helps the person address the thoughts and feelings associated with the condition. Getting help from a treatment center results in a dual outcome: recovery from addiction and support for mental illness.


Call Ardu Recovery Center

If you or a loved one is challenged with bipolar disorder and addicted to drugs, we want to hear from you. Our treatment programs are tailored to your issues and situation and designed to help you overcome your addiction while managing your bipolar condition. Contact us for more information.