People with hypomania have a 3.6 times higher risk of meeting diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence. Learn more about the connection between hypomania and substance abuse.

It is not uncommon for hypomania and substance abuse to co-occur. In fact, a study in a 2013 publication of the Journal of Affective Disorders shows that people who experience hypomania are 3.6 times more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence, and they are 2.9 times more likely to meet criteria for drug abuse or dependence.

Effects of Drug Use on Hypomania

Drug and alcohol use can make hypomania symptoms more severe. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), research shows that when individuals with bipolar disorder abuse substances, they are more likely to require hospitalizations.

Alcohol-induced hypomania is also a potential consequence, as research indicates that substance abuse is linked to rapid cycling of moods. The NIH cautions that hypomania and alcohol may be a harmful combination, as alcohol use can cause unstable moods.

Stimulant drugs can also be dangerous for individuals experiencing hypomania. Hypomania tends to involve symptoms like elevated mood and decreased sleep needs, which can be exacerbated by stimulant use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stimulant drugs such as cocaine create a rush of dopamine in the brain and cause irritability, euphoria, increased alertness and heightened energy levels. Since stimulants and hypomania produce similar symptoms, stimulant abuse can worsen hypomanic episodes.

Statistics on Hypomania and Addiction

Research from the National Institutes of Health suggests that hypomania and addiction often co-occur. A study with over 40,000 participants revealed the following hypomania and addiction statistics:

  • 27 percent of people who experienced hypomania in the previous year also experienced a substance use disorder of any type
  • 24 percent of those with past-year hypomania also experienced an alcohol use disorder during the previous year
  • 7 percent of people experiencing hypomania in the prior year also experienced a drug use disorder during that time

Hypomania is a mood state associated with bipolar II disorder. Research on individuals with this diagnosis reveals additional statistics about the relationship between hypomania and addiction:

  • 13 percent of individuals with bipolar II disorder experience alcohol abuse
  • 13.8 percent of people with bipolar II disorder are dependent on alcohol
  • Among those with bipolar disorder, 38.3 percent of males and 12.8 percent of females have an alcohol use disorder

Can Hypomania Lead to Substance Abuse?

While hypomania does not directly cause substance abuse, it can increase the risk of substance abuse. For example, scientists from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism report that alcohol abuse can be a complication associated with bipolar disorder.

Some research also suggests that alcohol may be a form of self-medication for mood symptoms of bipolar disorder, including hypomania. What begins as self-medication can become a substance use disorder if a person uses drugs or alcohol repeatedly.

Treating Hypomania and Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders

Hypomania treatment for people who have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder requires a program that addresses both the mood symptoms and the symptoms related to substance abuse. A treatment plan will vary based on each individual’s unique needs.

If you or a loved one is experiencing co-occurring hypomania and substance abuse, The Recovery Village, which has locations across the country, can create a treatment plan that addresses both conditions. Reach out to a representative today to begin the treatment process.

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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Dr. Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker through the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. She has over seven years working in the social work field, working with clients with addiction-related and mental health diagnoses. Read more

Do, Elizabeth K., & Mezuk, Briana. “Comorbidity between hypomania and substance use disorders.” Journal of Affective Disorders, September 25, 2013. Accessed March 7, 2019.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Bipolar disorder and alcoholism.” 2002. Accessed March 9, 2019.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “DSM-IV to DSM-5 hypomania criteria comparison.” June 2016. Accessed March 9, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is cocaine?” July 2018. Accessed March 9, 2019.

Grant, B.F., et al. “Prevalence and co-occurrence of substanc[…]d Related Conditions.” Archives of General Psychology, August 1, 2004. Accessed March 9, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.