With nearly 8.2 million people suffering from co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse, dual diagnosis is emerging as a common health threat in the United States. It can affect anyone, irrespective of their race, gender and social status. In recent months, many celebrities have come forward to reveal about their mental and substance use disorders. Now, American television personality Kristin Cavallari disclosed that her brother Michael, who died of hypothermia after a car crash in 2015, had substance use disorder (SUD).
While Kristin revealed about her brother’s struggle with drugs and alcohol, she also suspected that he was suffering from bipolar disorder. “Mike dealt with we think, bipolar disorder. He would go into these manias and think that everything’s great, everything’s fine and then he would just crash and would be depressed,” said Kristin.
The co-occurrence of bipolar disorder and drug addiction is a common dual diagnosis. Other common dual diagnoses are opioid addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcoholism and depression, and marijuana use and schizophrenia. In case of a dual diagnosis, either disorder — mental problem or drug abuse — can develop first. Generally, individuals grappling with a mental illness may resort to alcohol or other harmful substances as self-medication to improve the symptoms they experience. However, studies show that alcohol or any other addictive substance worsen the symptoms of a mental disorder.
Association between bipolar disorder and substance abuse
Characterized by symptoms like sudden mood swings and changes in behavior, bipolar disorder is a critical mental health condition that forces the afflicted person to experience relationship problems, economic instability, accidental injuries and increased risk of suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
There can be multiple factors like genetic predisposition that lead to the development of bipolar disorder. Besides, environment and the living condition of an individual play an intrinsic role in the development of bipolar disorder. While regular abuse of a drug can cause addiction, it, in turn, may trigger depressed or manic moods, thereby encouraging bipolar disorder symptoms.
The presence of dual diagnosis often remains hidden due to the dominance of either addiction or mental condition. Further, the confusing symptoms make it difficult to sense the presence of the condition. For example, bipolar disorder and depression share several symptoms. Therefore, in general, doctors tend to misdiagnose the condition, leaving bipolar intact. As a result, the patient then starts self-medicating using alcohol and prescription drugs to alleviate symptoms, which eventually leads to addiction. Therefore, it is important for doctors and medical practitioners to conduct proper diagnosis to check for the presence of both addiction and mental disorder in a patient complaining about either of the condition.
Recovering from dual diagnosis
In order to completely recover from dual diagnosis, it is important to treat both the co-occurring disorders simultaneously. The co-occurring bipolar disorder and substance abuse can be treated with various treatment modules, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and motivational interviewing (MI). These treatments help in improving behavioral and cognitive learning of the patient, training the individual for symptom management and cope with emotional dysregulation.
If you or your loved one is suffering from any co-occurring disorders, it is imperative to take the necessary medical help before matters go out of control. If you want to know more about dual diagnosis treatment centers in your area, connect with the Dual Diagnosis Helpline. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 or chat online with one of our representatives to get in touch with one of the best dual diagnosis centers in your vicinity.