According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” Imbalanced chemicals in the brain, genetics, and trauma can cause bipolar disorder. Those who suffer from a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of developing an addiction as they sometimes use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their feelings and emotions. Here’s what you need to know about bipolar disorder and addiction.

The 4 Types of Bipolar Disorder

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are four categories of bipolar disorder,

  • Bipolar I Disorder – defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care.
  • Bipolar II Disorder – a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (cyclothymia) – numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as well as numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (in adults).
  • Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders – defined by bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the three categories listed above.
Co-Occurring Bipolar Disorder

The Journal of Affective Disorders, (2016), “revealed that people with an alcohol use disorder were 4.1 times of a greater risk of having a bipolar disorder (BD) compared to those without an alcohol use disorder. The risks were even higher for illicit drug users where they were 5.0 times of greater risk of having BD compared to non-users.” The comorbidity between substance use disorders and bipolar disorder is so high that it’s almost regarded as the norm. People with bipolar disorder experience extreme shifts in energy and mood (also known as episodes) as well as major changes in levels of concentration. Because of these episodes, those affected often suffer from personal, professional and financial issues and are tempted to abuse drugs or alcohol to relieve the troubles caused by their condition. 

Treatment for Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

Often, one or more underlying mental health disorders co-occur with a substance use disorder or addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder and bipolar disorder, get help now. Both conditions are treated simultaneously as a dual diagnosis for the best results in recovery. While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable and recovery is possible.

If you’re ready to begin taking great strides towards your health and wellbeing, speak with a professional from Alta Loma today. Mental illness should be taken seriously and, if not treated early on, more severe conditions can arise. The best way to promote happiness and health is to seek help – and to begin using effective interventions for treating the problematic symptoms a person is experiencing. Don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need. Please call Alta Loma today – and you’ll be surrounded by a healthcare team who truly cares about your recovery. 866-457-3843


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You understand your needs best. If you have found yourself at a crossroads in your treatment and feel like your program options don’t fully understand you or aspects of your recovery, it’s time to contact the specialists at Alta Loma. We will help you craft the ideal care plan and secure the support you need, quickly, to avoid unnecessary problems. At Alta Loma, that’s our mission — to provide each individual with optimum care for the wellbeing they deserve.