Having a co-occurring mental health disorder alongside addiction has its own set of unique challenges. Many often wonder if addiction can cause mental illness or vice versa, but the truth is that they both feed off each other, making each other worse over time if treatment is not sought out. 

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that often coincides with addiction. Proper treatment that treats this disorder and addiction simultaneously is needed to give the person the best chance at recovery. Here is how bipolar disorder and addiction coincide and what treatment looks like.

If you or a loved one suffers from bipolar disorder and addiction, contact the team at Alta Loma today (866) 457-3843 to learn more and begin your journey to healing.

Substance use disorder (SUD) can be caused by genetics as well as environmental factors. While SUD is fairly common among people with mental illnesses, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), between 30% to 50% of people with bipolar disorder will develop a SUD. There are several theories about how SUD and bipolar disorder might be linked.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Individuals with bipolar disorder often experience extreme emotional highs and lows that can cause feelings of mania, hypomania, or severe depression. It can cause unusual shifts in energy levels, mood, concentration, and activity.

There are three types of bipolar disorder, which range from episodes of severe mania and depression to hypomania. Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed in a person’s late teens or early adulthood. SUD is more prevalent in people who are diagnosed with early-onset bipolar disorder in their late teens. Having a SUD on top of bipolar disorder can make bipolar disorder harder to treat.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Those diagnosed with bipolar disorder are often more likely to use drugs and alcohol. The National Library of Medicine states, “bipolar disorder is the most likely to co-occur with alcohol or drug abuse.” It also states that individuals with bipolar disorder are more likely to resist treatment, have a greater need for hospitalization, and are more likely to experience both irritable and dysphoric mood states. Drugs and alcohol can make the symptoms of bipolar disorder worse, causing the person to use more to relieve the symptoms; this often results in addiction.

According to SAMHSA, people who suffer from mental illness are more prone to substance abuse problems because they use substances to self-medicate their symptoms. This is why people with bipolar disorder tend to use psychomotor stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. However, other theories suggest that bipolar disorder and substance abuse disorder are often linked because they both affect the systems in the brain that regulates impulsivity, motivation, and reward feelings. People who suffer from a dual diagnosis of SUD and bipolar disorder tend to reject treatment and often don’t take their prescribed medications. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

When people are suffering from both bipolar disorder and substance abuse it is best that they receive integrated treatment. Because both disorders affect each other, the integrated treatments for mental health and psychiatric disorders at Alta Loma focus on addressing both disorders at the same time.

Substance abuse can worsen a person’s manic and depressive episodes, which makes it harder to treat a person’s bipolar disorder. Also, new manic or depressive episodes can result in new drug usage to try and self-medicate the new symptoms. A bipolar person’s mania may be worsened by their SUD and their SUD may be worsened by mania. When it comes to the dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and substance use disorder, treatments often include a combination of therapy and medication and should be administered by trained medical and psychiatric professionals.

A wide range of treatments is used to treat both, including medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Over time, a person can begin to relieve their symptoms and learn healthy coping strategies to avoid relapse.

Addiction and Mental Health Treatment at Alta Loma

Having bipolar disorder while also struggling with addiction has its own obstacles to overcome. Many may not understand your struggles, but that does not mean that healing is impossible. With the right facility, you too can have your happy ending and live a healthy, sober life. Alta Loma Transformational Services, we understand that co-occurring disorders must be treated simultaneously. We strive to give men a new start and do so through individualized treatment plans and more. Call us today at (866) 457-3843 to learn more and begin your journey to healing.