Dealing with co-occurring bipolar disorder and substance use disorder

Dealing with co-occurring bipolar disorder and substance use disorder

Many people experiencing a mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder or depression, seek refuge in various prescription drugs or illegal substances to counter their debilitating symptoms, oblivious to the fact that such medications can lead to the problem of addiction. In due course, such individuals tend to suffer from both a mental disorder and an addiction, commonly known as dual diagnosis, which can be difficult to diagnose due to the complexity of overlapping symptoms.

Most of the times, people do not receive treatment for both the ailments simultaneously, or may receive treatment for one disorder, while the other remains undiagnosed and untreated. This could be due to the fact that both mental disorders and substance abuse are triggered by similar factors, such as biological, psychological and social components.

Link between bipolar disorder and substance abuse

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition, characterized by a sudden shift in the mood, behavior and energy levels. Consequently, a person fighting bipolarity faces an array of problems, such as relationship issues, economic instability, accidental injuries, as well as suicidal tendencies.

The environment and the living condition of an individual play an intrinsic role in determining the development of bipolar disorder. An individual belonging to a family with a history of substance abuse, or a person who has witnessed a trauma or abuse during early stages of life, is more likely to develop bipolar disorder. Moreover, a person fighting bipolar disorder has higher chances of resorting to addictive substances to get relief from the pain or discomfort of the mental disease, as compared to the general population. On the other hand, a regular abuse of substances further deteriorates the existing symptoms of bipolar disorder, leading to increased severity of the symptoms.

Diagnosing bipolar disorder can be challenging since, most often, the symptoms may collide with that of depression. As a result, people tend to self-medicate using various illegal substances, such as drugs and alcohol, as well as prescription drugs, to alleviate the symptoms.

The use of addictive substances interferes with the processing of chemicals by the brain. As a result, the users experience emotional instability, erratic energy levels and depression. However, in case of patients suffering from bipolar disorder, use of these substances help them combat the symptoms and attain some relief. However, a habitual use of drugs leads to abuse and addiction.

Treating dual diagnosis

As per a 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 7.9 million people in America suffered from dual diagnosis in 2014. Thus, it is important to check every patient suffering from bipolar disorder for their vulnerability toward substance abuse This also calls for the need to check every patient entering a rehab for both addiction and mental illness. The co-occurring condition of bipolar disorder and substance abuse can be treated with various treatment modules such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and motivational interviewing (MI). These treatments help in improving behavioral and cognitive learning of the patient, along with training him or her for symptom management and cope with emotional dysregulation.

If you or your loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder and substance abuse, or any other co-occurring disorders, it is imperative to take the necessary medical help before matters go out of control. If you would like to know more about dual diagnosis rehab centers in your area, you may connect with the Dual Diagnosis Helpline. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 or chat online to get in touch with the best dual diagnosis centers in your vicinity.