Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. The extreme mood swings people experience include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and severe lows (depressive episodes).
When someone suffers from a depressive episode, they may have a hard time completing daily activities and experiencing pleasure. On the other hand, mania and hypomania tend to cause feelings of euphoria, increased energy, irritability, and impulsivity. These mood changes can affect a person’s ability to sleep, energy levels, judgment, behavior, and ability to think clearly.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “An estimated 4.4% of U.S. adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.”
Because of the impulsivity and severe emotional issues associated with bipolar disorder, many individuals with this condition develop a co-occurring substance use disorder. Living with a combination of bipolar disorder and addiction can be extremely difficult, often leading to an inability to function in your daily life.
At Sheer Recovery, our dual diagnosis treatment program offers comprehensive addiction treatment with a focus on mental health. While recovering in our private, supportive facility, you can gain control over your bipolar disorder and start on the path toward sobriety.
How is Bipolar Disorder Connected to Substance Abuse?
When you suffer from bipolar disorder, you may experience intense emotions and feelings on a regular basis. Typically, depressive episodes last for at least 2 weeks while mania and hypomania last at least 7 days. Experiencing these intense emotions for an extended amount of time can take a huge toll on a person’s psyche.
When bipolar disorder is left untreated, the symptoms can become too difficult to bear. This can lead you to begin seeking out ways to self-medicate your emotions through the use of drugs or alcohol. Eventually, abusing substances to soothe your symptoms will lead to dependency and addiction.
Another reason people with bipolar disorder develop an addiction is due to the impulsivity they experience during manic or hypomanic episodes. During these episodes, people experience high levels of energy, extreme impulsivity, and an inability to think clearly. This can cause people to begin abusing substances, leading to the beginning of the cycle of addiction.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), between 21.7 percent and 59 percent of people with bipolar disorder also struggle with addiction, which is a higher rate of co-occurrence than any other mental health condition.
Treatment for Addiction and Bipolar Disorder
Living with addiction and bipolar disorder can be extremely difficult, but dual-diagnosis treatment can provide you with the tools you need to recover.
The first step in addiction recovery is medical detox. Doctors can prescribe medications and medical staff can monitor your symptoms to ensure your safety and comfort. The type of medications you will receive depends on the substance you are addicted to, as withdrawal symptoms differ from drug to drug.
After detox, you will move on to treating the psychological and behavioral aspects of recovery using psychotherapy.
The common therapies used to treat addiction include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Contingency management (CM)
- Motivational interviewing (MI)
- Family therapy
- 12-step facilitation therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- The matrix model
Behavioral therapy for addiction is used to help you learn how to regulate your emotions in a healthy manner, therefore reducing your urges to abuse substances. One of the main focuses during addiction treatment is to teach you how to identify your triggers and work through cravings for substances in a healthy way.
Therapies that are often used to treat bipolar disorder include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Group psychoeducation
- Family-focused therapy (FFT)
- Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT)
Behavioral therapies for bipolar disorder tend to focus on helping clients learn how to self-regulate their emotions, cope with external stressors, improve their relationships, and manage the symptoms of their condition.
Bipolar disorder symptoms are usually managed with medications that can help stabilize your mood. These medications can prevent severe depressive or manic episodes by balancing the chemical imbalances in your brain.
Typically, bipolar disorder is treated with antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, or SSRI medications. Antipsychotics and mood stabilizers are used to keep your mood stable, preventing you from experiencing severe mania or hypomania. SSRI medications can manage symptoms of depression or anxiety that many people with bipolar disorder experience.
Relapse Prevention and Aftercare
Lastly, treatment for bipolar disorder and addiction involves relapse prevention and aftercare planning to help you avoid a relapse. This process usually involves collaboration between your therapist, psychiatrist, case manager, and yourself to come up with attainable goals, daily schedules, and tools that you can use to cope with stress or triggers.
Relapse prevention and aftercare may involve:
- Continued attendance of therapy and group counseling sessions
- Continued medication management
- Access to alumni support groups
- Referrals to sober living programs
- Recommendations on addiction support groups to attend like Alcoholics Anonymous
- A list of triggers and coping mechanisms that work for you
- A list of people to call for support in times of need
Find Treatment for Bipolar Disorder and Addiction in California Today
If you or a loved one is suffering from co-occurring bipolar disorder and addiction, recovery is possible.
At Sheer Recovery, our multidisciplinary staff will teach you how your bipolar and substance abuse are related and how they affect each other. We work with each of our clients on an individual basis to make sure they get the personalized treatment they deserve. When you leave our facility, you will feel confident in your ability to manage your bipolar disorder without relying on drugs and alcohol.
If you or a loved one are ready to start your recovery journey or are interested in learning more about our California dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment program, please contact us today.
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