Addiction Treatment and Bipolar Disorder

Addiction Treatment and Bipolar Disorder

Untreated bipolar disorder can be debilitating. The highs and lows that define this disorder can be painful to endure. Bipolar disorder treatment is possible and can help you manage the disorder. Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol only worsens the mental health disorder and creates unexpected drug addiction or alcoholism problems. The combination of a bipolar disorder with addiction is known as a dual diagnosis. Professional treatment can help you break free of overwhelming feelings and addiction.

If you have been struggling with extreme mood swings and you use alcohol and drugs to manage your symptoms, you need a treatment facility that can handle your mental health issues and your addiction. Recovery Connection has been helping people find quality treatment for years. Call 866-812-8231 and speak with a trained, experienced coordinator who understands addiction. You can stabilize your moods, stop the addiction and live the life you dream about. Calls are confidential and free of charge. Our helpline is open 24 hours and day, 7 days a week.

What is Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)?


Bipolar disorder was formerly known as manic-depressive illness. It is a brain disorder that causes quick and extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. The feelings and sensations experienced by someone suffering from manic-depressive illness are not the average ups and downs of everyday life. The intensity of the feelings and the behaviors that accompany the mood swings can destroy a person’s career, family home-life and the ability to function daily. These extreme mood swings are known as mood episodes.

Bipolar disorder usually begins in late adolescence or early adult years (early 20s). It affects an equal amount of men and women, but women experience the start of manic depressive illness with a depressive episode while men experience the onset of bipolar disorder with a manic episode. The origins of this brain disorder are not known, but bipolar disorder seems to have a genetic as well as an environmental component. There is no distinction between ethnic groups, races, or social classes. Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness can be managed. Appropriate diagnosis becomes crucial as does knowledge about the mental health disorder and proper, ongoing treatment.

The patterns and severity of symptoms or episodes of highs and lows determine the different types of bipolar disorder and determine appropriate bipolar disorder treatment. The following are different types of bipolar disorders:

  • Bipolar I Disorder: One or more manic episodes or mixed episodes (mania and depression happening nearly every day for almost one week) and one or more depressive episodes. This is the most severe form of the illness, marked by extreme manic episodes and manic depression treatment should be sought.
  • Bipolar II Disorder: One or more depressive episodes accompanied by at least one hypomanic episode. Hypomanic episodes are similar to manic episodes but are less severe. These manic moods clearly differ from a person’s non-depressed mood.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: Chronic fluctuations of moods involving hypomania and depression occur. The periods of depressive and hypomania symptoms are shorter and do not appear with as much irregularity as Bipolar I or II.
  • Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: Every so often a person will experience the symptoms of a manic or major depressive episode, but that do not fit within the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder I or II. The symptoms are not the same as those of the categories mentioned above or they do not occur as often. However, these episodes are not within the range of normal behavior or feeling.

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Self medicating with drugs or alcohol only worsens the mental health disorder and creates unexpected drug or alcohol addiction problems.

Those with bipolar disorder experience tremendous mood swings, alternating between mania (highs) and depression (lows), thus the name manic depressive illness. Whenever a person experiences symptoms for at least two weeks and is unable to function, it is determined to be an episode. Four or more episodes of mania or depression within a year is referred to as rapid cycling bipolar disorder. These symptoms require immediate bipolar disorder treatment. Rapid cycling is experienced in approximately 10 percent of those people with diagnosed bipolar disorder. Research has shown that this aspect of the disorder is predominant among females. People can experience rapid cycling episodes more than once a day. Bipolar disorder treatment can be challenging because of the patient’s instability and continual changes in mood. The frequency and severity of episodes will worsen with time if the disorder is left untreated.

Mood Episodes Associated with Bipolar Disorder

  • Manic Episode (Mania): A specified period of time where there is a constantly elevated, expansive or irritable mood, lasting at least seven days.
  • Hippomanic Episode (Hypomania): A milder form of mania that lasts at least four days without psychotic symptoms.
  • Major Depressive Episode (Depressive): A time when there is either a depressed mood, lasting for at least 14 days.
  • Mixed Episode: A period of time when a person experiences both manic and depressive symptoms for at least seven days consecutively but the symptoms can last years.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

It is not unusual for people suffering from bipolar disorder to seek drugs or alcohol in order to cope with their internal discomfort. They may seek to elevate or change their mood through the use of various substances. Quickly, the patient becomes dependant upon substances. Thus, drug and alcohol addiction may temporarily mask the symptoms of bipolar disorder. It is important to remember that self medicating will provide only momentary relief. Once addiction has taken hold, the bipolar disorder will worsen. Addictions and bipolar disorder require immediate and professional treatment.

A dual diagnosis, the combination of a mental health disorder such as manic depressive illness or some other disorder and substance abuse, seriously compromises a person’s health. Addiction treatment becomes necessary. As part of the addiction treatment program, mental health treatment is needed or a full recovery and mental health management will not be possible.

Have you been self medicating to treat unexpected highs and lows? In reality you are making the symptoms of your mental health disorder worse. Call 866-812-8231 to speak with a Recovery Connection coordinator. Each member is trained to answer all your questions and help you find the best treatment program.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

If you are suffering from bipolar disorder or manic depression and a substance addiction, the right addiction treatment center is needed. Addressing the bipolar disorder/ manic depression can change your life for the better. If you have compounded the problem with alcohol and drugs, you need an addiction treatment center that can address your dual diagnosis. Not all addiction treatment programs can provide treatment for people suffering from a dual diagnosis. Often the mental health disorder is misdiagnosed because of the drug addiction. Onsite medical staff can provide accurate and ongoing assessments.

To successfully treat bipolar disorder and drug and/or alcohol addiction a quality treatment rehab will offer:

  • Mental health education
  • Medication management
  • Addiction education
  • Life skills training
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Relapse prevention
  • Nutrition and exercise counseling
  • 12 Step meetings
  • Aftercare planning

Bipolar medications are used to help balance mood swings, as consistency is the goal. The list below reflects the most commonly prescribed bipolar medications:

  • Depakote ( divalproex )
  • Lithium ( lithonate )
  • Tegretol ( carbamazepine )
  • Antipsychotic medications (Abilify, Seroquel)
  • Antidepressants (Fluoxetine, Paxil, Zoloft)

Everyone’s symptoms of manic depression vary. Medication trials may be necessary to find the right medication and the right dosage to manage the manic depressive illness. Medications may cause side effects, some more serious than others. For this reason, bipolar disorder medication should not be abused, and dosages taken should be as prescribed. Any side effects should immediately be reported to your treating physician.

If you are thinking about suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to the emergency room immediately.

A drug and alcohol rehab staffed with certified addiction physicians, psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors onsite 24/7 can provide immediate care for medical and psychological emergencies. Quality addiction rehabs will have a clearly defined and medically monitored dual diagnosis program. Individual treatment plans should be available to every patient and updated on a daily basis to ensure that treatment is relevant. One-size-fits-all treatment does not work. Without treating bipolar disorder and addiction simultaneously, a sustainable recovery is questionable.

Looking For Treatment?

Ask a Recovery Connection trained coordinator to help you find an addiction treatment program, or a drug or alcohol rehab that offers dual diagnosis programs. Call 866-812-8231 and start living your life without the confusion and pain of bipolar disorder and addiction.

24/7 all conversations are confidential

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