Drug addiction and bipolar disorder often occur together and can serve to both precipitate and exacerbate each other. Unfortunately, both are also conditions that are generally misunderstood and as a result many people who suffer from these diseases are unable to obtain effective treatment or any treatment at all. Bipolar condition can be difficult to recognize in an individual and in some cases people suffer with it for years before getting help. In fact, some of the symptoms of bipolar can drive a person to turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to cope with the. And because substance abuse often precipitates mental illness, any potential or repressed bipolar issues can be brought forth by co-occurring addictions or alcoholism. Understanding the relationship between drug addiction and bipolar disorder is critical to developing effective treatment plans.
Bipolar is a condition that is categorized by strong and consistent changes in mood or emotional state. These changes shift between depressive and manic episodes. During depressive states, the afflicted individual may feel hopeless, insecure, have poor self worth and no motivation to do anything. During manic states the person often will be extremely energetic, overly happy and in some cases unable to maintain concentration for long periods of time. These states can last for weeks or months at a time, or they may swing wildly back and forth. According to Internet Medical Health, a group dedicated to providing health related information to the public;
“Bipolar I Disorder affects both sexes equally in all age groups and its worldwide prevalence is approximately 3-5%.” And; “The condition has a high rate of recurrence and if untreated, it has an approximately 15% risk of death by suicide. It is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15-24 years, and is the 6th leading cause of disability (lost years of healthy life) for people aged 15-44 years in the developed world.”
The rates and consequences are disturbing considering that bipolar often occurs with drug addiction or alcoholism. In some cases it may appear that one condition caused the other, but in reality it’s impossible to tell what the exact relationship is. In fact, some people were treated for bipolar for years before they developed a drinking or drug problem, and some people were drug users for years before being diagnosed with bipolar. Whatever the case may be having both conditions at the same time presents a unique set of challenges to both sufferers and therapists.
Drug addiction or alcoholism must necessarily be given priority treatment status €” at least until post acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms are under control. Once the initial stage of treatment has passed, treatment for bipolar disorder must be incorporated into the program. This is often accomplished through the application of reality based and evidenced based practices the include individual, group and family therapy coupled with proper nutrition, exercise and medication.
Bipolar is a condition for which there is no cure but only treatment, and the same is true for addiction or alcoholism. This means that people who suffer from both conditions will ALWAYS suffer from both conditions and so will need to be treated accordingly.