It is common for people suffering from addiction to also be diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as bipolar disorder, and vice versa. Co-occurring disorders are unique in that there is more than just one issue to manage. Instead, co-occurring disorders need to be handled simultaneously, as they tend to be intertwined with each other.

It is estimated that about 60 percent of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder also have some history of substance use disorder, making co-occurring disorder quite prevalent.

How Are Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Linked?

Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings that range from extreme highs to intense lows. Patients afflicted with bipolar disorder are more likely to suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol, though it is not fully understood why. Many theories exist, predominantly the notion that patients with bipolar disorder may reach for drugs or alcohol in an effort to self-medicate and ease their emotions and mental state, particularly during times of extreme lows.

Unfortunately, the use of alcohol and drugs exacerbates the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Not only that but misusing drugs and alcohol can even increase the development of bipolar disorder, even if the person has no history of mental health problems.

Patients with bipolar disorder experience dramatic changes in their mood, and each “episode” can last for days or even weeks. The frequency of such episodes can range from anywhere between a few times every year to many times per week and lead to extreme shifts in energy levels and the ability to focus.

Risk factors for bipolar disorder include a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics, and even a traumatic experience. People with bipolar disorder tend to have a very difficult time maintaining healthy relationships, interacting in a social environment, holding down a job, and staying out of legal trouble.

Bottle with spilled pills

Dealing with both bipolar disorder and substance use disorder requires the assistance of specialty programs that treat both disorders simultaneously.

When addiction is also part of the equation, such problems can be even worse. Both the symptoms of bipolar disorder and substance misuse each have their own unique symptoms that can impede proper functioning at home, work, school, or in social settings.

The situation can become even more complicated because both co-occurring disorders impact each other. If neither one of the disorders is treated effectively or in a timely fashion, addiction can become even more prominent. Likewise, when drug or alcohol misuse gets worse, so do mental health issues.

Bipolar disorder can be so debilitating that it puts patients at a much higher risk of addiction and suicide as a means to “escape” their troubles. Fortunately, specialized programs in drug rehab facilities are available to help.

Treating Bipolar Disorder and Substance Use Disorder in Drug Rehab

Suffering from substance use disorder or bipolar disorder is hard enough on its own, but the situation is even more challenging when you are dealing with both bipolar disorder and addiction at the same time. The good news is that there is help available in the form of specific treatments that target both disorders simultaneously. With the right program and support, you can be well on your way to the road of recovery and take back your life.

If you or any of your loved ones are suffering from a co-occurring disorder, reach out. There is treatment available for co-occurring disorders, and the associates at The Recovery Village are here to help you find the right drug rehab program for you. Contact us today to learn more.

What’s the Link Between Bipolar Disorder and Addiction?
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