Addiction and Bipolar Disorder – Are they Related?

Bipolar disorder was initially referred to as “bipolar depression”; it is a grave mental illness that involves extreme emotions, mood swings, and energy levels. Most of the time, people battling addiction have mental health issues like bipolar disorder.

In research, approximately 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder had abused substances in the past.

The real reason why most people with bipolar disorder abuse substances is unknown even though substance abuse often aggravates the symptoms . People with no history of mental health illness or dormant symptoms of bipolar disorder can grow to exhibit the symptoms due to substance abuse. To learn more about co-occurring mental health and drug use disorders, contact a qualified care provider.

Bipolar disorder, as well as substance abuse, causes serious risks to an individual’s health. Compared to the general population, people battling with the disorder are more likely to have relationship problems, financial Instability, suicides, and accidents. They are likely to be addicted to drugs alcohol, assuming they do not already battle with addiction.

American Journal of Managed Health Care has Presented the Following Statistics:

  • Fifty-six per cent of people involved in the study had been addicted to drugs or alcohol in their lifetime.  
  • Forty-six per cent of the participants were addicted, while Forty-one per cent had were addicted to drugs.
  • Because it’s available and legal, alcohol is a very common substance that individuals with bipolar disorder.

If a person struggles with bipolar disorder and substance abuse, they may have a Dual Diagnosis of bipolar and substance abuse. Being diagnosed with Dual Diagnosis or a co-occurring condition makes recovery very difficult. Bipolar individuals, on the other hand, may experience episodes of extreme depression alternated with periods of heightened episodes and an exaggerated sense of self-worth. Emotional instability interferes with the recovery plans, this makes it challenging to comply with the treatment plan’s guidelines.

Rehabilitation Programs for Dual Diagnosis have been modeled, to meet the needs of patients who face this complicated psychiatric condition. The staff is specially trained with credentials in mental health and addiction specialists; some centers offer treatment that incorporates the best treatment plans for bipolar disorder using the most effective treatments for addiction.

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What’s the Link Between Bipolar and Addiction?

Explaining the increased rate of substance abuse and dependence on chemical among people with bipolar disorder is not particularly explainable; the primary reason people with the disorder self-medicate and abuse substances is because they are trying to stun the painful symptoms that come with the disorder. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Mental Health states that drinking and drugs often trigger depression or bipolar disorder.

Age and gender influence the relationship between bipolar disorder and substance addiction. Young males are likely to abuse substances compared to other demographic groups. According to the journal Bipolar Disorder, younger men take more risks and succumb to self-destructive urges than women or older men would. Abuse of substances is not common among older people who battle with the disorder.

Clinical researchers believe that brain chemistry may influence bipolar disorder and substance abuse. According to WebMD, people that are bipolar often have abnormal levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin . These chemicals influence your body’s functions such as sleep, metabolism, appetite, and your body’s answer to stress, can also affect your mood and emotions.

Taking heavy doses of drugs and alcohol can cause your brain to process these chemicals erratically, causing  depression, erratic energy levels, and emotional instability

People with this disorder turn to drugs or alcohol out of an unconscious need to stabilize their moods. Sadly, there is a flip side to substance abuse: It makes those who are bipolar worsened.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Every human experiences intense moments of sadness, anger, joy, but for someone with bipolar, these moments are uncontrollable and overwhelming. The four types of episodes that people with bipolar disorder experience, they are mania, hypomania, mixed episodes, and depression. they all unique symptoms, and these symptoms are:


This Is the “high” End of A Mood Gamut for Individuals with Bipolar Disorder. the Symptoms Includes:

  • Moments of great significant pessimism and optimism
  • Grandiose feelings
  • Rapid talking
  • Little sleep
  • Impaired judgment, irrational behavior
  • Delusional behavior
  • Hallucinations


This the “low” end of the bipolar gamut; it is caused by sadness, fearfulness, and despair. With bipolar disorder, depression may last for days or weeks. It all depends on the mood cycle. These periods are challenging for individuals with Dual Diagnosis; they are at a higher risk of self-harming or suicide. some symptoms of depression include:

  • Hopeless feelings
  • Loss of interest in things that used to make you happy
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Self-loathing
  • Suicidal thoughts


Hypomania symptoms are similar to those found in mania, but they are less intense. Individuals with hypomania are usually capable of managing their everyday lives, but they experience a higher than average level of happiness, irritability, or energy. They may feel that they can handle more responsibility or that they need to sleep less; you’re more talkative or friendly. They may also be more prone to engage in risk-taking behaviors, such as substance abuse. For certain people, hypomanic cycles are incredibly productive, and since psychotic symptoms do not occur during hypomania, it can appear that you don’t have a problem.

Mixed Emotions

The symptoms that come with bipolar disorder aren’t always clearly defined. In a mixed emotions episode, symptoms are usually a combination of mania and depression. For instance, they may have suicidal thoughts and lose interest in their daily routines, coupled with racing thoughts, pressured speech, and loss of sleep.
They may feel the urge to drink alcohol or take drugs to balance out the mood swings. However, intoxication is a temporary fix. . Make a full recovery by getting professional treatment to stabilize the overwhelming feeling of emotions.

Bipolar Disorders and Substance Abuse Treatment

Until recently, bipolar disorder and chemical dependence were diagnosed separately and treated at various facilities. People diagnosed as bipolar were treated at mental health treatment centers or psychiatric clinics while abusing drugs or alcohol were referred to rehabilitation centers.

Today, addiction professionals understand the importance of treating bipolar disorder and substance abuse simultaneously through integrated treatment.

Integrated treatment involves several various forms of treatment. For instance, your treatment plan might include counseling sessions with an addiction specialist, or one-on-one sessions with a mental health professional, Dual Diagnosis support groups, family counseling, and holistic therapy.

A Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Integrated Program Include These Features:

  • Centralized care provided in a rehabilitation facility
  • treatment from the team of psychologists, addiction therapists, and other professionals skilled in dual diagnosis 
  • Psychotherapy aimed at managing your emotions and reducing the risk of substance abuse
  •  medication prescribed by a described by tor to help you handle the ups and downs of bipolar disorder
  •  group support for those who are dealing with addiction and bipolar disorder 

Treatment for bipolar disorder is insufficient without treating drug misuse, and vice versa. Your chances of relapse are high unless you undergo comprehensive treatment for both conditions. For those with bipolar disorder, relapse prevention techniques must provide coping skills for dealing with social and emotional causes for drug abuse.

Therapeutic Methods

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) have also been shown to be successful in educating Dual Diagnosis individuals on how to regulate their feelings and avoid being distressed by mood swings.

If you have a concurrent diagnosis of bipolar disorder and substance abuse disorder, group therapy is vital to your recovery. During peer group support groups and counseling sessions, you’ll learn about the common causes and consequences that people that are bipolar face. You’ll have the ability to share your thoughts and learn strategies that help from others.

Psychotherapeutic medication is widely used at dual diagnosis centers to treat bipolar disorder. Mood-stabilizing drugs may be taken together with antipsychotics or antidepressants to give a full range of treatment options.

Given the difficulty of treating patients with comorbid bipolar disorder and drug use disorder, a multifaceted approach that includes both pharmacotherapy and psychosocial interventions may be essential. As a result, Dr. Gold and colleagues performed a retrospective study of eight psychosocial treatment trials for bipolar condition and drug use disorder that were comorbid. 6 Despite the mixed results of the studies (6 for alcohol and illegal drugs, and two for smoking), the researchers found comprehensive group therapy to be the most consistent treatment for comorbidities. 6 Daily workshops that discuss abuse causes, relationships, and coping through the use of substances are part of integrated group therapy. which included weekly sessions that identified abuse triggers, relationships, and coping without substances, had the best efficacy in relating both the substance abuse to the mood disorder of the comorbidity as well.

In the absence of formal guidelines, clinicians should consider how an integrated treatment addressing both mood and substance use symptoms (rather than either the mood or substance use signs alone) can provide Specific benefits for a patient with bipolar disorder and substance abuses as explained by Alexandra Gold, a PhD student in clinical psychology at Boston University, who is the lead author.

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Challenges to Recovery

Addiction professionals face several challenges in treating individuals with bipolar disorder and also have addiction issues. For one thing, most of the symptoms of the disorder are similar to those of drug and alcohol abuse. Therefore, when a person does seek professional help, it is difficult to see where the mental disorder stops and the addiction begins.

Furthermore, even well-intentioned drug rehabilitation services cannot detect a patient’s concurrent bipolar disorder.  Many people do not receive the care they need and are asked to leave recovery programs because they do not respond to conventional treatment methods. Abscense of motivation or energy levels, for instance, can interfere with treatment plans during a depressive episode. In a manic state, clients appear unfocused, talkative, impatient, grandiose, or aggressive.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains that treatment for individuals with co-occurring disorders should move at their own pace. The treatment plan should be carefully evaluated and adjusted to meet the Dual Diagnosis patient’s unique needs.

To accurately deal with the challenges and complexities of bipolar disorder, all the team members involved in the treatment should be professionals in mental health, addiction, and rehabilitation care. The team members must be able to communicate with each other and with the client continuingly to ensure that the treatment plan is not ineffective.

The Dual Diagnosis recovery facilities understand the overlapping nature of bipolar disorder and substance abuse. Dedicated treatment facilities specifically designed for a person that is bipolar can provide appropriate treatment at a more reasonable pace. Treatment centres in California and Tennessee are staffed by experts who understand what it takes to help an individual with a co-occurring condition get well again. These well-regarded institutions change lives. They help treat both disorders with care and thoroughness.

Remember, only those who work with Dual Diagnosis patients regularly are equipped to handle the illness’s unique nature. By calling 615-490-9376, you can contact us when you or a loved one suffers from bipolar disorders and addiction.