How Addiction Affects Those With Bipolar Disorder

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on October 29, 2021.

People who have bipolar disorder sometimes turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with their condition. They may self-medicate to alleviate symptoms or seek relief from mental illness.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that impacts your mood and energy level and may cause disruptions in your day-to-day life. There are two diagnoses for it:

  • Bipolar I disorder: This condition is characterized by at least one manic episode. During a manic period, the person will have high levels of energy and activity for at least a week. Sometimes manic episodes require hospitalization.
  • Bipolar II disorder: This diagnosis is characterized by at least one depressive and one hypomanic episode but no manic episodes. Hypomania doesn't require hospitalization, nor does it result in psychosis. It can last for just four days. Depressive episodes reflect feelings of hopelessness and low pleasure in daily life.

About 2.8% of American adults have bipolar disorder.

Dual Diagnosis Bipolar and Addiction

People with bipolar disorder have a higher incidence of drug and alcohol addiction than the general population. When someone has these co-occurring disorders, they have a dual diagnosis. This can lead to challenges in treating both types of mental illness, including:

  • Greater anxiety issues.
  • More depressive episodes.
  • Difficulty cooperating with treatment.
  • Increased rate of accidents.

People with a dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and substance abuse, including alcohol or meth addiction, often have trouble completing daily tasks. Sometimes they stop taking their meds because the feeling of being on meth or other substances gives them a high similar to manic episodes. Those with a dual diagnosis may face issues with employment and relationships. Integrated treatment that addresses both conditions has provided the most success to struggling individuals.

How Bipolar and Substance Abuse Disorders Are Treated

Treatment of bipolar and substance abuse disorders consists of an integrated approach to address both conditions simultaneously. Treatment focuses on a holistic plan tailored to each individual based on their past and their unique behaviors. This treatment considers the mental health needs for both bipolar disorder and substance abuse and treats them equally.

Clients may receive medicine for each condition as well as detox and therapy. Residential stabilization offers the stability people need during recovery.

Contact Us to Learn About Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know needs help managing a dual diagnosis, we can assist. Diamond House Detox specializes in treating co-occurring disorders, including bipolar disorder and substance abuse. Explore our available programs and contact us today.