Bipolar Disorder

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bipolar-disorderWhat Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition in which the individual experiences periods of a very high mood, alternating with periods of a very low mood. The high periods are accompanied by feelings of overconfidence, manic energy and unrealistic goals and expectations. However, the individual may then crash into a deep depression and may despondent, uncommunicative and may even become suicidal. Many very high-functioning people have bipolar issues to some degree, which puts them at risk for substance dependence. Because the moods are so difficult to manage, individuals may turn to alcohol or drugs to feel normal. This action can then lead to addiction, which must be treated accordingly by licensed professionals.

Experts understand that addiction often occurs alongside mental health problems. Many people may abuse drugs or alcohol in an effort to self medicate, whereas others may develop a mental health issue after a period of prolonged substance abuse.

 Some other examples of co-occurring mental health disorders include:

Each of these combinations is called a dual diagnosis. When a substance abuse disorder and mental health issue occur together, they require attentive, professional addiction treatment.

mood-disordersWhat is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

In many cases, an individual may use alcohol or drugs to regulate unstable moods and maintain normal function. However, addiction itself can also trigger symptoms in individuals who have previously not had them. This interplay between the substance and the mental illness can cause individuals to be stuck in the vicious cycle of addiction for many years before proper treatment can effectively control both problems.

Addiction specialists have designed dual diagnosis treatment programs knowing that treating the conditions separately is not likely to be successful. Addicts must also learn to deal with the symptoms of the mental illness. Treatment for mental health problems may require medication and behavioral training to recognize negative thoughts and behavior patterns. A comprehensive evaluation upon arrival at a rehab facility helps place individuals in programs that are catered to their unique needs and circumstances.

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The reasons for this co-occurrence appear to be complex. There may be genetic predispositions in brain chemistry that cause the two conditions to occur together. Individuals with bipolar disorder often engage in high-risk activities, such as promiscuity, drinking and drug use. The condition itself causes highs and lows that can often drive individuals to use substances to try to regulate the frequent mood changes. These factors can make individuals with bipolar disorder particularly vulnerable to substance abuse.

Treating Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Diagnosing and treating the bipolar disorder must occur immediately after detoxification in order to allow patients the emotional stability that will help them tackle the difficult road to recovery that lies ahead. The appropriate medication will stabilize moods, so they can engage in the dialectical behavioral training and contingency management techniques that will help them resist cravings and rebuild their lives.

Importance of Aftercare

Individuals with mental health issues such as bipolar disorder must have addiction aftercare strategies in place to support them as they rebuild their lives following substance abuse. Group meetings and counseling is available in most communities. These specialized support groups can help to provide the necessary resources and encouragement these individuals need to remain drug and alcohol-free. Some examples of these groups are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

If you or a loved one is struggling with bipolar disorder and it is making recovery from drug or alcohol abuse more difficult, we can help you find top-rated rehab center that offer specialized dual diagnosis treatment programs. Learn to manage your symptoms while finally taking back control of your life.


  2. Abuse, N. I. (2014, January 03). Severe mental illness tied to higher rates of substance use. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  3. Bipolar disorder and alcoholism: Are they related? (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from

Last updated on April 6th, 2017 at 06:53 pm

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