The Links Between Bipolar and Addiction

Table of Contents

Bipolar and addiction commonly co-occur together. Many who grapple with addiction also experience a concurrent mental health condition like bipolar disorder. Bipolar, previously known as manic depression, is a disorder that disorder entails mood swings oscillating between extreme emotional highs and lows.

Studies show that 40% of those with bipolar also experience substance use disorder at some stage in life. While the reasons remain elusive, bipolar disorder appears to increase the susceptibility to drug and alcohol abuse, leading to widespread instances of comorbid bipolar disorder. The use of addictive substances frequently inflames the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder – alcohol and bipolar is an especially damaging combination. Additionally, individuals without a previous mental health history may develop bipolar disorder due to substance abuse – drug-induced bipolar disorder.

Self-Medication and Bipolar Disorder

Although the precise relationship between bipolar disorder and substance abuse is a topic of ongoing study, researchers have identified several connections between these conditions. One especially significant factor is the concept of self-medication for bipolar disorder. Examples of bipolar self-medicating are someone with bipolar who uses marijuana to alleviate manic symptoms or someone with bipolar who relies on cocaine to experience a boost of energy during depressive episodes. This self-medication pattern can lead to a reliance on substances to achieve a subjective sense of normalcy.

By resorting to self-medication, individuals inadvertently worsen the challenges associated with bipolar. Although substances may provide temporary relief or desired effects, they ultimately contribute to the worsening of symptoms and the potential development of additional mental health issues. The precise neurobiological mechanisms underlying this relationship are not yet fully understood. However, it is believed that the interplay between neurotransmitters, brain circuits, and the emotional dysregulation characteristic of bipolar may contribute to the vulnerability to substance abuse.

Recognizing the complex nature of bipolar disorder and drug use, the best way to treat bipolar disorder and addiction is to implement comprehensive treatment approaches that address both conditions concurrently. Such approaches typically involve a combination of pharmacological interventions, psychotherapy, support groups, and lifestyle modifications tailored to each individual’s specific needs. 

a man sits with a hoodie on and his head in his hands to represent bipolar disorder and addiction.

Drug-Induced Bipolar Disorder

In addition to the intricate relationship between bipolar disorder and substance use disorders, it is vital to acknowledge the existence of drug-induced bipolar disorder. This phenomenon refers to the development of bipolar-like symptoms as a direct result of substance abuse or adverse reactions to certain medications.

Some substances, including alcohol and various drugs, have the potential to cause symptoms resembling those of bipolar disorder. For instance, hallucinogens like LSD, PCP, and psychedelic mushrooms, as well as benzodiazepines, antidepressants, certain heart and blood pressure medications, prescription pain relievers, and even decongestants, can induce bipolar-like symptoms in susceptible individuals.

Even medications prescribed for other purposes, including mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants, can occasionally lead to mood swings or adverse psychological effects resembling bipolar disorder. In fact, some research suggests that certain antidepressants may increase the risk of rapid mood changes.

Diagnosing drug-induced bipolar disorder can be challenging, as the symptoms may closely resemble those of primary bipolar disorder. Accurate evaluation and assessment by healthcare professionals are crucial for determining the underlying cause and tailoring appropriate treatment approaches.

When addressing drug-induced bipolar disorder, a comprehensive treatment strategy is paramount. This typically involves discontinuing the use of substances that induce the symptoms, managing withdrawal if necessary, and implementing therapeutic interventions to stabilize mood and manage any associated mental health conditions. Supportive therapies, including counseling and psychoeducation, can help individuals navigate the recovery process and develop effective coping mechanisms.

Beyond this, it is crucial to address the underlying factors contributing to substance abuse and adverse reactions to medications. This may involve exploring co-occurring issues such as trauma, stress, or underlying psychiatric conditions that increase vulnerability to substance-induced mood disturbances.

By recognizing and addressing drug-induced bipolar disorder, healthcare professionals can provide tailored interventions that address both the substance abuse or adverse medication reactions and the resultant mood dysregulation. Through a collaborative and holistic approach, individuals can work towards achieving stability, improved mental well-being, and a healthier overall life trajectory.

A man looks out a car window to represent the symptoms of bipolar disorder and substance abuse

Bipolar and Addiction FAQs

What percentage of alcoholics are bipolar?

Studies show that 40% to 70% of those with bipolar also become alcoholics at some stage.

What is the rate of substance abuse in bipolar

Research shows that 60% of those with bipolar disorder experience co-occurring substance abuse or addiction.

What is the most common drug used for bipolar patients?

There is no specific most common drug used for bipolar patients, as treatment plans are tailored to individual needs. However, mood stabilizers, such as lithium, are commonly prescribed to manage bipolar symptoms and stabilize mood.

Can drugs cause bipolar disorder?

Rather than bipolar disorder caused by drugs, drug use may trigger or exacerbate symptoms in individuals who are predisposed to the condition. Substance abuse can impact the brain’s chemistry and increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder in vulnerable individuals.

What drugs can trigger bipolar?

Various drugs, particularly stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamines, can potentially trigger manic or hypomanic episodes in individuals with bipolar disorder. Additionally, antidepressants used without mood stabilizers can sometimes induce manic symptoms in susceptible individuals. It’s essential for individuals with bipolar disorder to discuss their medication options with a healthcare professional to minimize risks.

Dual-Diagnosis Addiction Treatment for Bipolar

The best addiction and bipolar treatment is integrated dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis refers to the presence of both a mental health disorder, such as bipolar disorder, and a substance use disorder. The goal of dual diagnosis treatment is to provide integrated and coordinated care that addresses both conditions effectively.

Dual diagnosis treatment recognizes that bipolar disorder and addiction are interconnected and that successful recovery requires addressing both aspects concurrently. By targeting both conditions simultaneously, individuals can achieve better outcomes and long-term stability.

The key principles of dual diagnosis treatment for bipolar disorder and addiction include:

  • Comprehensive assessment: A thorough assessment is conducted to evaluate the specific needs, challenges, and underlying factors contributing to both bipolar disorder and addiction. This assessment helps tailor an individualized treatment plan that addresses the unique circumstances of each person.
  • Integrated treatment approach: Integrated treatment involves combining pharmacological interventions, evidence-based therapies, and supportive services to address both bipolar disorder and addiction. This approach ensures that individuals receive a holistic and cohesive treatment plan.
  • Medication management: Medications may be prescribed to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder and support recovery from addiction. Mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and other medications may be used to stabilize mood, reduce cravings, and promote overall well-being.
  • Evidence-based therapies: Therapeutic interventions play a crucial role in dual diagnosis treatment. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), and motivational interviewing are examples of evidence-based therapies that can help individuals develop coping skills, address underlying issues, and prevent relapse.
  • Supportive services: Support groups, counseling, and psychoeducation are valuable components of dual diagnosis treatment. These services provide individuals with a supportive community, education about their conditions, and practical strategies for managing triggers and stressors.
  • Relapse prevention: Dual diagnosis treatment focuses on equipping individuals with relapse prevention techniques and strategies. Learning to identify early warning signs, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and building a strong support network are essential for the bipolar addict to maintain long-term recovery.
  • Ongoing care and aftercare: After completing a dual diagnosis treatment program, individuals benefit from continued support and aftercare services. These may include outpatient therapy, alumni programs, and community resources that promote ongoing recovery and well-being.

Dual diagnosis treatment should be provided by professionals experienced in addressing both bipolar disorder and addiction. Specialized facilities, like Ohio Recovery Centers, offer comprehensive dual diagnosis programs tailored to meet the specific needs of individuals with bipolar disorder and substance abuse issues.

A woman sits looking out at a sunset to represent bipolar disorder and substance abuse treatment and rehab in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Get Dual-Diagnosis Treatment at Ohio Recovery Centers

Ohio Recovery Centers is dedicated to providing comprehensive and coordinated dual diagnosis treatment for individuals struggling with substance abuse and bipolar. Our personalized addiction treatment programs cater specifically to those grappling with alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs, while also addressing the unique challenges posed by bipolar disorder.

Extensive research underscores the importance of integrating treatment approaches for individuals facing co-occurring disorders. At our Cincinnati rehab, we offer a range of specialized programs that prioritize the simultaneous treatment of bipolar disorder and addiction.

Our dual diagnosis treatment programs are specifically designed to address the intricate interplay between bipolar disorder and addiction. By employing a holistic approach, we ensure that both conditions are treated in a coordinated and comprehensive manner.

Recognizing the varying needs and preferences of our clients, we offer flexible treatment options that maintain the highest standards of care. Whether you choose our PHPs (partial hospitalization programs) or IOPs (intensive outpatient programs), you will receive the individualized support necessary for successful recovery.

To embark on your journey towards lasting recovery, contact our admissions team today at 513-757-5000. Immediate assistance is just a phone call away, as we stand ready to guide you towards a healthier and more fulfilling life, free from the burdens of both bipolar disorder and addiction.

Table of Contents

an image of author Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn