Bipolar disorder is a mental illness marked by extreme mood swings that range from episodes of extreme high—called mania—and periods of severe depression. However, many people with bipolar disorder also struggle with substance abuse, and this is because the two diseases are closely linked.
In fact, it’s estimated that over 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder also have substance abuse problems, with alcohol being the most commonly abused substance. And while the links between bipolar disorder and substance use aren’t fully understood, mental health professionals are coming closer to understanding the relationship.
When Bipolar Disorder Leads to Substance Use
There appears to be one main reason why bipolar disorder causes substance abuse so often: attempted self-medication. For one, drugs and alcohol that cause feelings of calm and euphoria are able to temporarily counteract the anxiety, insomnia, depression, and physical pain that occur with bipolar disorder. Moreover, the extreme moods swings that characterize bipolar disorder are disruptive and jarring, and many people likely turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to regulate their own moods, because both bipolar disorder and drugs can affect the brain’s production of important hormones like:
Substance Abuse Causing Bipolar Disorder
Unfortunately, the pendulum swings both ways, and it seems that substance abuse can itself cause bipolar disorder and exacerbate its symptoms. Drug and alcohol abuse eventually cause physical changes in the brain, and people have developed bipolar disorder as a result of these drug-induced changes. Similarly, because drug use affects the same hormones in the brain as bipolar disorder, substance use can also set off episodes and make symptoms worse.
Treatment Options for Co-Occurring Disorders
When one person has both substance abuse problems and bipolar disorder—called a co-occurring disorder—it’s vital that the two diseases are treated concurrently as two aspects of the same disease. If you were to treat just the bipolar disorder, a patient would still be addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Similarly, if you treated only the substance use, a patient would still be suffering from bipolar, and would likely relapse shortly after being released from rehab. Therefore, treating the two together as related is the only option. This co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis treatment includes a number of approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy, drugs to regulate mood and rehab and treatment for the substance use.
There was a time that bipolar disorder and substance use were treated separately and in different facilities with different professionals. But mental health and addiction specialists have come to realize that the only effective way to treat these co-occurring disorders is to treat them at the same time. Luckily, there are many cutting edge luxury rehab centers out there that recognize the importance of treating co-occurring disorders together, and that have the knowledge, expertise, staff, and trained professionals to help you address both diseases at the same time.
If you’re suffering from bipolar disorder and addiction, there is help out there, and Beachway Therapy Center can help you get clean and manage your mood disorder at the same time through a variety of therapies and specialized treatment solutions. Call us at 877-284-0353 anytime for help.