Dealing with Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

People with Bipolar Disorder experience extreme highs and lows. While everybody goes through periods of happiness, sadness, and anger, those who have Bipolar Disorder tend to experience these emotions more strongly and for longer periods of time than that of the general population. Variations exist within Bipolar Disorder, such as Bipolar I and Bipolar II. If you have any variation of Bipolar Disorder combined with addiction, you have something called a dual diagnosis, and it can make your recovery complicated. Thankfully, experts in recent years have become very skilled at treating dual diagnoses, and with the right tools, you can start to feel better.

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Bipolar Mood Episodes

Those who have Bipolar Disorder experience mood episodes that can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months at a time, depending on the type of Bipolar Disorder that the person has. During the “up” periods, a person with this illness experiences mania or manic episodes. During these episodes, the individual may feel:

  • Extreme happiness or euphoria
  • Extreme anger or irritability
  • A lot of energy
  • The need to talk very quickly
  • The inability to sleep
  • The need to take risks

These periods of mania alternate with periods of depression or depressive episodes. During one of these “low” periods, a person may feel:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Numbness
  • Little or no energy
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Additionally, some people with Bipolar Disorder experience mixed episodes, or periods of both mania and depression. For example, one might feel wildly energetic but also hopeless and sad. If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, talk to your doctor or psychiatrist. He or she can give you an official diagnosis.

56% of people with Bipolar Disorder have also experienced addiction.

It’s unclear why Bipolar Disorder and addiction are so closely related, but the nature of manic and depressive episodes may have something to do with the connection. For example, manic episodes often cause sufferers to take risks such as spending a lot of money or having unprotected sex. Drinking alcohol or abusing dangerous drugs can become part of those risky behaviors. During depressive episodes, some Bipolar sufferers may use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate or numb the pain of depression, which will also start an addiction cycle.

If you deal with addiction and Bipolar Disorder, call 800-492-QUIT today.

Dual Treatment

Having a dual diagnosis means receiving dual treatment. While mental health experts used to take a sequential approach to treatment (treating the addiction and the mental illness separately), today’s experts understand that mental illness and addiction should be treated at the same time. Because mental illness and addiction can often make each other worse, your best chances of managing one come from treating the other.

Detox and Rehab

If you haven’t already done so, start your treatment with detox and rehab. You might seek treatment from a rehab facility right away, but if you’re addicted to alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines, you should detox in a medical facility first. These substances come with dangerous withdrawal periods, and medical detox can make the process more safe and comfortable for you. Some rehabs include detox as part of their program. When you look for rehab facilities, search for programs that specialize in dual diagnosis. Rehab programs that only treat addiction will not provide the type of care that you’ll need.

Continuing Treatment

After rehab, continue to seek treatment for both the addiction and the Bipolar Disorder. Think of these two illnesses in the same way you would think of Type 1 Diabetes – as lifelong conditions that you can manage healthily with regular treatment. Part of your treatment may involve seeing a counselor on a regular basis. Talk therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can provide mental health benefits, and many people with dual diagnoses find success through group therapy programs.

Your treatment for Bipolar Disorder may also involve taking medication. Many recovering individuals try to avoid medication altogether, worried that they’ll trade one addiction for another one. However, you don’t have to worry about the types of medication that doctors prescribe for Bipolar Disorder. Mood stabilizers and antidepressants are not addictive medications. Though you should make sure that your doctor knows about your addiction, medication can be a part of your recovery.

Getting Help

If you haven’t started your treatment and don’t know where to begin, allow Rehab Info to help. At Rehab Info, we talk to clients with all sorts of unique situations, including people who deal with both Bipolar Disorder and addiction.

We can recommend treatment programs

that will work best for your situation. Call 800-492-QUIT to get started.
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