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Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental condition characterized by phases of elevated energy levels (mania), and severe depression. These phases can last weeks or even months. These debilitating symptoms drastically interfere with the function of those living with bipolar disorder, often leading sufferers to self-medicate with illegal drugs. Unfortunately, this can hinder treatment and further complicate this agonizing condition.

Mania And Depression

A person with bipolar disorder often swings between two extreme states of mind and body: mania and depression. In mania, they are full of excessive energy and feel powerful and full of life. Depending on the person, this state may be positive or negative. Often, people feel an overwhelming impulsiveness that pushes them to do dangerous things, such as use drugs.

By contrast, a person with bipolar will feel depression. In this state, they lack energy and feel exhausted with life. They often long to regain the excitement they feel during their “manic” phases. As a result, they may self-medicate with illegal substances.

Substance Abuse With Bipolar Treatment

In conjunction with specialized therapy, symptoms of bipolar disorder can be alleviated with medication. While there is no known cure for bipolar disorder, sufferers may find relief in physician-aided treatment. When treatment is met with mind-altering substances, it is difficult to properly treat the condition.

Many substances cause bipolar-like symptoms, such as: mania, anxiety, irrationality, or depression, Additional substances can also cause adverse effects if taken with bipolar medication, making the condition more difficult to manage.

Addiction Takes A Toll On Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder varies in symptoms and severity. Some people with bipolar disorder function fairly well with treatment and medication, but others struggle in spite of diligent effort. Many are predisposed to impulse control and addictive behavior. These symptoms can amplify any desire to find relief through illegal substances. Some effects of substance abuse with bipolar disorder include:

  • Amplified highs (mania), sometimes resulting in psychosis.
  • Uncharacteristically deep depression, and heightened risk of suicide.
  • Intensified withdrawal symptoms – agitation, headaches, etc.
  • Prescribed medication and therapeutic treatment interference.
  • Disengagement from friends, family, and community.
  • Financial duress.

Bipolar comes with its own set of adversities. Many people suffering with bipolar disorder experience feelings of isolation and displacement as a result of the illness. Addiction alone can have the same effect. The hardships often become completely unmanageable when the two afflictions are combined.

How To Help

When a loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder, treatment is a positive step towards recovery. If you suspect a loved one is struggling with addiction, there are ways you can help them get back on track:

  • Observe your loved one. Listen for sudden changes in mood and behavior, as uncharacteristic behavior could be a sign of trouble.
  • Create an open line of communication. Allow your loved one to open up about any problems that could be causing these changes.
  • If a loved one opens up about drug use, do not guilt, scold, or lecture. Instead, try a proactive approach. Ask questions, and offer to help find resources. Support change, but never be sworn to secrecy.
  • Ask help from trusted family and friends, mentors, clergy, or clinicians. If intervention is necessary, consider the stability of your loved one and never try to fix this problem alone. Offer well-researched options for a solution.

The best way to regain control of the situation is to find a solution, and follow through with treatment. When someone with bipolar disorder is struggling with addiction, the support of loved ones can make all of the difference in rehabilitation.

We Can Help

Contact us today.Addiction does not have to be a “way of life” for anyone. If you or someone you know is struggling, many options exist to help regain control. The caring staff at is here to listen, answer questions, and offer solutions to get you on the path to recovery. Contact us today.