bipolar disorder and substance abuse

Unlike other mental conditions, the signs of bipolar disorder are often easy to identify; they either fall into patterns or behaviors in certain situations are consistent. On the other hand, impulsive behavior can make the individual unpredictable, as it’s often connected to a person’s mood. As a result, loved ones never really know what or when they will do something rash.

A person who has bipolar disorder experiences a shift in moods that swings from mania to depression. The mania is often accompanied by bursts of energy, while a low mood may cause the person to lack energy or motivation. Other signs of bipolar disorder often include the inability to focus, rash decisions, and impulsive behavior, inflated self-esteem, or rapid speech/thoughts.

Oftentimes a person struggling with bipolar disorder may turn towards substances during their episodes. There is a strong connection between bipolar disorder and substance abuse. This situation is also referred to as a co-occurring disorder. If you or a loved one is suffering from either addiction or bipolar disorder, it is time to get help. 

A Closer Look at Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition in which a person struggles with intense mood swings. Someone dealing with bipolar disorder will switch back and forth from certain emotions. It’s usually a switch between energetic and happy to depressed and angry. This can cause intense stress for the person and can affect other aspects of their life (social, relationships, jobs, etc.) 

There is no defined cause for bipolar disorder. Research suggests that genetics and other factors may play a role in someone having bipolar disorder (which develops over time). This mental illness continues to affect millions of people every year, but luckily treatment is always an option. 

Bipolar Disorder Episodes

Bipolar disorder can trigger a wide range of emotions and behaviors, depending on the mental state of the individual. Treatment specialists usually break down the symptoms into three main types of episodes: manic, hypomanic, and depressive. Those struggling with bipolar disorder may fluctuate between different states and episodes. 

Manic Episodes

Manic episodes typically last seven to ten days and can trigger an elevated mood, which plays out in either mania or irritability. The most common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty functioning at work or in social gatherings
  • Ability to function with little sleep
  • Talking fast or feeling like the mind is “spinning”
  • Inflated self-image that comes across as narcissistic
  • Distracted by everything in the room
  • Enjoying high-risk activities

Hypomanic Episodes

Hypomanic episodes are similar to manic episodes, but they have less intensity and occur for shorter periods. A hypomanic episode may last three to five days. Many of the same symptoms that are in manic episodes are also present in hypomanic episodes.

The individual may either be in a really good mood or slightly irritable. Caffeine or nicotine can cause the mood to elevate to the level of manic episodes until the chemical wears off. Although hypomanic episodes do present some challenges, the person can function in normal settings.

Depressive Episodes

Once the individual comes down from the mania, they may sink into a low mood or depressive state. They may experience little pleasure in anything around them. Furthermore, they may feel a sense of isolation. Some of the symptoms of depressive episodes include: 

  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Severe depression or apathy
  • Inability to stay focused on tasks
  • Decreased appetite or sleep
  • Complete lack of energy or motivation
  • Increase in drug or alcohol consumption

If there is instability in a person’s environment, it can make the symptoms even worse. For instance, if someone is going through a divorce, financial problems, or has just been fired from their job, their bipolar episodes could intensify, creating emotional problems.

Bipolar I and Bipolar II

There are actually two different types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and II. Each of these has various symptoms and involves both manic and hypomanic behavior. It’s important to know the difference so you can get the proper help for you or someone you know. 

Bipolar I

One of the more severe versions of bipolar disorder is bipolar I. Bipolar I usually includes manic episodes. These specific episodes include impulsive behavior with consequences, paranoia, strange thoughts, and delusions. 

These manic episodes include the need to seek pleasurable activities. During their venture towards these activities, the person may forget or completely disregard the consequences. Experimenting with drugs, gambling, and other risky activities are common in bipolar I. Sometimes these behaviors can lead to dangerous consequences if bipolar is left untreated. 

Bipolar II

Bipolar II is less severe and less problematic than bipolar I. Bipolar II includes a person experiencing hypomanic episodes of some kind. Lack of sleep, energetic behavior, rapid talking, and other out of character behaviors are seen in cases of bipolar II. 

People struggling with bipolar disorder may pursue sex with their spouse or other people during hypomanic episodes. During these episodes, the person may be energetic and stay up all night. While not as worrisome as bipolar I, bipolar II has its fair share of complications as well. 

Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

It’s not uncommon for people struggling with bipolar disorder to turn to substances. Sometimes, the stresses and problems in their life can drive them towards drugs to escape or cope. People may see it as a way to self-medicate. Unfortunately, this doesn’t get rid of the problem and only creates more complications with substance abuse. Unfortunately, there is a big connection between bipolar disorder and substance abuse in the U.S.

When someone is dealing with a mental illness (like bipolar disorder) and drug addiction, a co-occurring disorder can emerge. A co-occurring disorder (also known as a dual diagnosis) can be an extremely problematic situation. What tends to happen is both the addiction and mental illness worsen over time. These two conditions may begin to feed off each other, which only reinforces the need to use drugs. 

Co-occurring disorders typically require intense treatment. During recovery and treatment, both the mental illness and drug addiction are treated separately. There are a number of treatment options that can help a person get to a better place and achieve a brighter future. Phoenix Rising is here to help you on your journey towards recovery. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

In most cases, there are a variety of options available to you or a loved one. Our dual diagnosis treatment program offers a series of treatments ranging from psychotherapy to detox and individual therapy. It’s worth mentioning that not all treatment options may work for you, some may work better than others. Let’s take a look at some common bipolar disorder and substance abuse treatments. 

Therapy Options

Psychotherapy is used for pretty much every case of mental illness and substance abuse. Both drug addiction and mental illnesses can affect the mind in a variety of negative ways. Therapy options like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy aim to change how a person thinks. 

One-on-one sessions and group therapy are great options for understanding your situation and changing your behavior for the better. Treating both bipolar disorder and substance abuse usually includes a few of these therapy options. It’s worth noting that some may work better than others, depending on the person and the situation. 

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is almost always required for a dual diagnosis. A residential treatment program usually includes the person staying at a facility with professional help by their side. There are many factors and issues that can arise when treating both conditions. This is why it’s recommended to have trained professionals like ours by your side at all times. The treatment process will utilize therapy, detox, and medication options for various conditions. 

Detox

Detoxification is one of the first methods used for all drug addiction treatment. Detoxification essentially rids the body of all substances and alcohol This process can be looked at as part one of drug addiction treatment. After detox is complete, a person moves on to therapy and medication-assisted treatment. Residential treatment allows for safe and intensive recovery after detox as well. 

Get Help Today at Phoenix Rising

Bipolar disorder can be a disheartening situation for you and your loved ones. Fortunately, Phoenix Rising is here to guide you towards a better future. With an incredible staff and a number of effective treatments, your full recovery can start today. 

If you would like to learn more about bipolar disorder and substance abuse, contact Phoenix Rising today. We offer a wide range of treatments for bipolar disorder and other conditions. Call to schedule a consultation with a treatment specialist.