To understand the connection between amphetamine use and bipolar disorder, it’s helpful to understand bipolar disorder first. Bipolar disorder is an often misunderstood condition and does not mean being moody or temperamental. Mood changes in bipolar disorder happen slowly over weeks to months and oscillate between the extremes of mania and depression.
Bipolar disorder typically starts in a person’s mid to late 20s and begins with an episode of mania. Symptoms are mild at first and slowly escalate to extremes, in most cases. Since mania makes a person feel euphoric, they often do not think anything is wrong until others begin to notice symptoms like excessive talkativeness, poor decision-making abilities, and risky behaviors.
People with bipolar disorder cannot control their moods and struggle to stop manic or depressive episodes. Medication is usually required and sometimes talk therapy or counseling can help with stabilization. Some people may be tempted to self-medicate their symptoms with drugs or alcohol, which may offer temporary relief but usually only worsens their condition.
Amphetamines and bipolar disorder have a complicated relationship. About 40% of people with type I bipolar disorder have a co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD). The most commonly abused substances among people with bipolar disorder are:
However, some people with bipolar disorder may use amphetamine drugs as well.
Does Amphetamine Abuse Cause Bipolar Disorder?
No, amphetamine use does not cause bipolar disorder, but it can cause symptoms, and this distinction is important. The term for this distinction is amphetamine-induced bipolar disorder, and it resolves when a person stops using amphetamines.
It’s important to note that amphetamine drugs are typically not used in medication therapy for people with bipolar disorder because they are stimulants and may only make bipolar symptoms worse. The kind of amphetamines a person with bipolar disorder might use include both legal, prescription medications and illicit substances.
A person with bipolar disorder may have access to prescription amphetamines like:
- Adderall (dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine)
- Desoxyn (methamphetamine)
- Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
- Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)
The list of illicit amphetamines is small and includes:
Does Amphetamines Affect Bipolar Symptoms?
Absolutely. Amphetamines can both cause manic bipolar symptoms in people without bipolar disorder and can worsen symptoms of mania for people who have a diagnosed bipolar disorder.
Amphetamines cause symptoms of mania even in people without bipolar disorder — this condition is called amphetamine-induced bipolar disorder. For people with amphetamine addiction, manic symptoms may be severe and long-lasting. Comprehensive treatment of the underlying substance use disorder will typically resolve manic symptoms.
For people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder that is not amphetamine-induced, the underlying disorder is difficult to treat with co-occurring amphetamine addiction.
Treatment Options for Bipolar and Co-Occurring Amphetamine Addiction
Co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnoses, usually require intensive therapy, like inpatient rehab. During treatment, a medical professional should separate amphetamine-induced bipolar disorder from a diagnosed bipolar disorder. In either case, treatment for amphetamine addiction should be administered.
Above all, someone who struggles with bipolar disorder and co-occurring amphetamine abuse or addiction should seek treatment that addresses both conditions simultaneously through medical help and mental health counseling. Many accredited rehab centers offer this kind of co-occurring disorder treatment, including all locations of The Recovery Village.
Key Points: Amphetamines and Bipolar
The main points to remember about bipolar disorder and amphetamines include:
- Bipolar disorder can occur in people with a family history of bipolar disorder
- People with bipolar disorder cannot control their mood and switch between long-lasting mania and long-lasting depression
- Amphetamines can induce symptoms of bipolar disorder, but amphetamine-induced bipolar disorder is not the same as bipolar disorder
- Amphetamine-induced bipolar disorder is treatable by treating the substance abuse
Do you or a loved one have an amphetamine addiction? Amphetamine can induce symptoms of bipolar disorder. Do you know someone who tries to treat their bipolar symptoms with amphetamines? They will make the symptoms of bipolar disorder worse in the long run. Call The Recovery Village today for help with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. We have locations around the country to fit most needs and lifestyles.
American Psychiatric Association. “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5.” American Psychiatric Association, 2013. Accessed June 16, 2019. Cerullo, Michael A, and Stephen M Strakowski. “The Prevalence and Significance of Substance Use Disorders in Bipolar Type I and II Disorder.” Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2007. Accessed June 16, 2019. The Mayo Clinic. “Bipolar Disorder – Symptoms and Causes.” 2018. Accessed June 16, 2019.
American Psychiatric Association. “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5.” American Psychiatric Association, 2013. Accessed June 16, 2019.
Cerullo, Michael A, and Stephen M Strakowski. “The Prevalence and Significance of Substance Use Disorders in Bipolar Type I and II Disorder.” Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2007. Accessed June 16, 2019.
The Mayo Clinic. “Bipolar Disorder – Symptoms and Causes.” 2018. Accessed June 16, 2019.