Is Substance Abuse Common with Bipolar Disorder?
When people suffer from
substance addiction, they often also suffer from some sort of mental illness. One mental illness
that often co-occurs with addiction is bipolar disorder. When struggling
with bipolar disorder and substance abuse, it’s important to seek
out the proper help immediately. To do that, individuals must first recognize
the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder and addiction. That way these
symptoms can be properly diagnosed as being part of a dual diagnosis.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that’s characterized by severe
mood swings. These mood swings cause individuals to go back and forth
between experiencing manic highs and depressive lows at random times.
Individuals with bipolar disorder can also experience hypomanic mood swings.
Hypomanic mood swings are mood swings with slightly less intense highs
than those with manic mood swings. Typically individuals with bipolar
disorder only experience one or two cycles of mood swings a year.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. Still, researchers believe
that bipolar disorder likely develops in individuals due to a combination
of factors. Some factors that researchers believe can help cause a person
to develop bipolar disorder include:
Many people are more susceptible to developing certain mental illnesses
and conditions due to their genetic history. For example, if an individual
has numerous people in his or her family history that have suffered from
bipolar disorder, it is more likely that that person will develop bipolar
disorder. This is especially true if that person also experiences other
factors that can trigger the development of bipolar disorder.
People that have an actual imbalance in the neurotransmitters or hormones
in their brains are also more inclined to develop bipolar disorder. Because
chronic substance abuse leads to chemical changes in the brain, it’s
no wonder that bipolar disorder and substance abuse are co-related to
Trauma is another likely cause of bipolar disorder. This is because experiencing
trauma affects people mentally in a way that can trigger mental illness.
The fact that bipolar disorder often develops in people later on in life
when they are already adolescents or young adults is an indicator that
influences such as trauma can be what triggers the development of the
mental illness bipolar disorder.
Another indicator that trauma is a likely contributing cause of bipolar
disorder is because many people that experience trauma start to abuse
substances to cope. This substance abuse can then cause individuals to
experience chemical changes in the brain that triggers the development
of bipolar disorder.
This is especially true if the person is already genetically inclined to
develop bipolar disorder or the trauma that the person has experienced
has already had mental effects on him or her. This just goes to show how
easy it is for bipolar disorder and substance abuse to co-occur.
Research shows that while men and women develop bipolar disorder at equal
rates, women are more inclined to develop rapid cycling bipolar disorder.
Women also contain a tendency to develop bipolar disorder later in life
than their male counterparts.
Women are even more prone to experiencing seasonal mood changes and bipolar
II disorder. Furthermore, women that suffer from bipolar disorder tend
to also suffer from more medical and mental health conditions than men.
For example, women with bipolar disorder have more of a tendency to also
suffer from thyroid disease, anxiety disorders, and migraines.
Individuals that suffer from bipolar disorder don’t always suffer
from a straightforward exchange between manic or hypomanic bipolar symptoms
and depressive bipolar symptoms. In fact, some individuals with bipolar
disorder experience mixed symptoms at times.
Mixed bipolar disorder symptoms are characterized by some manic or hypomanic
bipolar symptoms and some depressive bipolar symptoms. For example, individuals
that are suffering from mixed bipolar disorder symptoms may experience
manic rapid speech and excitement at the same time that they’re
experiencing depressive poor memory and insomnia.
Individuals that experience mixed bipolar symptoms may choose to abuse
substances to balance them out. This then leads to bipolar disorder and
Why is it so Difficult to Diagnosis Bipolar Disorder?
Because other health conditions can cause manic or hypomanic behavior and
mania and hypomania aren’t their own diseases, diagnosing mania
or hypomania can be difficult. On top of that, doctors may initially assume
that individuals that are experiencing depressive symptoms simply suffer
from depression. Thus, it’s important to communicate in detail your
symptoms with your doctor prior to him or her making an official diagnosis
of your condition.
To diagnose individuals with mania, those people must experience manic
symptoms for at least a week. Individuals that experience severe manic
symptoms that cause them to be hospitalized can receive a manic diagnosis
after a shorter period of time.
For doctors to diagnose individuals with hypomania, those people must experience
at least three classic hypomania symptoms for at least four days. Once
doctors are able to diagnose individuals with mania and/or hypomania,
it makes it easy to properly diagnose those people with bipolar disorder
once the doctors also notice that these individuals suffer from depressive episodes.
Substance addiction is relatively easy for doctors to diagnose. In fact,
doctors can often give a concrete diagnosis for substance addiction based
on the results of people’s blood tests, urine samples, and lab tests.
Therefore, when individuals that suffer from bipolar disorder also struggle
with substance abuse, doctors will most likely make a proper diagnosis
of the dual diagnosis.
What Is Substance Addiction?
Addiction to substances is characterized by chemical changes in the brain
due to substance abuse and the willingness to do almost anything to get
more substances. Substance addiction is also characterized by the inability
to stop using substances when one tries.
Prior to developing a full-fledged addiction to substances, an individual
must also develop drug dependency. People that suffer from drug dependency
experience withdrawal symptoms whenever they minimize or discontinue their
drug or alcohol use.
Substance addiction starts with substance abuse. Chronic substance abuse
not only causes chemical changes in the brain that then leads to addiction,
but it also can cause chemical changes in the brain that can then lead
to the development of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. As a
result, many people struggle with bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse Diagnosis
To diagnose an individual with bipolar disorder and substance abuse, a
doctor will first make a note of that person’s medical history.
The doctor will then conduct a physical exam on the individual. Make sure
to inform your doctor about any prescription medications that you’re
already using at the beginning of your doctor’s appointment.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse
To treat the co-occurring disorder of bipolar and substance abuse, it’s
vital that individuals treat the two conditions simultaneously. This is
because both of the disorders can trigger the appearance of the other
one. Therefore, if a person tries to treat one of the two disorders prior
to the other one, the lingering disorder will trigger the re-appearance
of the treated disorder in-between treatment sessions.
The only way to simultaneously treat a mental illness and a substance use
disorder is to attend dual diagnosis treatment at a rehab facility. Prior
to attending dual diagnosis treatment though, most individuals that suffer
from bipolar disorder and substance abuse, in particular substance abuse,
should attend medical detox. That way individuals can rid their bodies
of substances prior to entering treatment.
Attend Dual Diagnosis Treatment At Grace Land Recovery
Grace Land Recovery is a dual diagnosis treatment center. Therefore, we specialize in treating
co-occurring conditions such as bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
Here at Grace Land Recovery, individuals can also receive individualized
and specialized addiction treatment for addiction to a variety of substances.
We even offer our patients a variety of other unique mental health and
addiction treatment programs and services. For example, Grace Land provides
willing patients with everything from groups for mental health, anger
management, and trauma, to groups for
HIV education, nutrition, and spirituality.
To learn more about the other addiction and mental health treatment programs
and services that Grace Land Recovery offers,
contact us today! We would love to answer any questions that you may have about our
dual diagnosis treatment center.