Several different types of mental health disorders can be related to substance abuse problems and addiction. Bipolar disorder is one such condition that could increase the risks for addiction.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a type of mental health disorder where the individual experiences severe, unpredictable mood swings. The mood swings vary between mania, periods of extreme emotional highs, and extreme emotional lows, namely depression.
Unlike depression, where the individual finds it difficult to experience positive emotions, like joy and happiness, those who suffer from bipolar disorder experience joy, happiness, and other positive emotions. However, when they experience them, they are much more intense.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
The exact causes of bipolar disorder are not yet fully understood. However, there are several contributing factors, including:
- Family Genetic Factors – Bipolar disorder has a genetic factor. If there is a family history of bipolar disorder — especially a parent or sibling — the likelihood of other family members developing bipolar disorder increases.
- Biological Changes in the Brain – Research studies have indicated that those with bipolar disorder have noticeable biological changes in their brains compared to people without this condition.
- Exposure to Periods of Excessive Stress or Anxiety – When one experiences extreme stress and anxiety for a prolonged period, it could trigger bipolar disorder.
- Experience a Traumatic Event Repeatedly – Traumatic events, like sexual abuse and physical abuse, could be an underlying factor that could lead to bipolar disorder.
- Family Substance Abuse Factors – In homes where there are substance abuse disorders and addiction problems, other family members can be at increased risk for substance abuse and bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Bipolar disorder treatment is similar to care for other mental health disorders and conditions. Various types of therapies and counseling can be used to help the individual recognize the changes in their moods when they occur, such as:
- Peer Support Groups
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Meditation Therapy
Some people diagnosed with bipolar disorder also benefit from drug therapy treatments. Different types of medications help regulate manic and depressive periods. Instead of extreme mood swings, the medications attempt to help keep the person’s emotions more level and stable.
How are Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse Linked?
There is evidence and research that indicate there is a high correlation between bipolar disorder and addiction. Research studies indicate individuals with bipolar disorder have up to a 50% risk of developing a substance abuse disorder.
A research study conducted in 2020 by NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) discovered there are three potential occurrences that could contribute to developing a co-occurring bipolar and substance abuse disorder, which are:
#1: Symptoms can lead to self-medicating.
It is not uncommon for people with bipolar disorder to self-medicate during their low periods by turning to alcohol or drugs to numb the depressive emotions. Through repeated use, tolerance and dependence on drugs and alcohol develop, requiring the individual to use more of the preferred substance to achieve similar effects. Eventually, addiction sets in.
#2: Substance abuse can make symptoms worse.
Engaging in substance abuse can make the symptoms of bipolar disorder more noticeable in individuals that have mild bipolar symptoms. The changes the drugs and alcohol cause in the brain could trigger the mood swings associated with bipolar disorder.
#3: Shared risk factors.
Drug and alcohol addiction and bipolar disorder share similar risk factors. Sometimes overlapping factors could contribute to one condition developing first, followed by the other condition developing later. In some cases, both conditions could develop simultaneously.
Increasing Awareness About Bipolar Disorder
In 2014, World Bipolar Day was held on March 30th to increase awareness about bipolar disorders through education and improving sensitivity towards those afflicted with the condition. Since then, World Bipolar Day has been celebrated every March 30th.
The goal of Bipolar Awareness Day is to grow awareness and reduce the stigma around bipolar disorder. It also helps those with the condition learn more about treatment options. The annual event is also used to increase awareness about bipolar disorder and substance abuse disorders.
Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment in Asheville, NC
Crest View Recovery Center in Asheville, NC, we treat co-occurring conditions like bipolar disorder and addiction. We provide our patients with an integrated approach and custom-tailored treatment plan to help lay the groundwork for long-term recovery.
If you are feeling out of control either due to bipolar disorder or addiction, we are here to help. Our goal is to provide you with the support and care you need to learn how to effectively manage your bipolar disorder while living a sober lifestyle.
We work with you to develop a co-occurring treatment plan to create better outcomes and reduce treatment costs. For further information about bipolar disorder and alcohol addiction or bipolar disorder and drug addiction treatment programs, please feel free to contact us today!