Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism

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It’s believed that about 2.6% of adults in America suffer from bipolar disorder. In many cases, this disorder affects individuals who are about 25 years old or older. Sadly, many of the people who suffer from this disorder struggle to work through the symptoms alone. As a result, some do not receive the treatment and help that they need in order to cope with the effects of their disorder. This causes people to feel overwhelmed and may even lead individuals to self-medicate, seeking a way to relieve the negative effects of bipolar disorder in their lives. 

Sometimes, those who are dealing with this disorder use prescription drugs to treat their symptoms. Others may begin to use illicit drugs in order to escape from the effects of bipolar disorder. Many individuals use alcohol as a way to relieve their symptoms. But, after using this substance for weeks, months, even years, people can become heavily dependent on alcohol. 

As a result of this dependence, some people may become addicted to alcohol, developing an alcoholism problem. Dealing with both bipolar disorder and alcoholism can be very difficult and even dangerous. So, it’s important for those who are struggling with alcoholism and bipolar disorder to get professional help in order to overcome these issues in their lives.

What is Bipolar Disorder and What Causes It?

No doubt, most people have heard about bipolar disorder and have seen how it affects people. But, many individuals do not fully understand what this disorder is and how it affects those who suffer from it. 

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that affects various areas of a person’s life. An individual who suffers from this disorder experiences sudden shifts in his or her mood, changes in cognitive behavior, and fluctuations in energy levels. In other words, this disorder affects people’s moods, emotions, physical energy, and way of thinking.

There is no known specific cause for bipolar disorder. But, there are several factors that can contribute to the development of this disorder. Genetics may play a role in causing bipolar disorder to affect people. Sometimes, if a family member has this disorder, an individual may also develop it.

In some cases, people may develop this mood disorder because of the effects of stress. Excessive and intense stress can cause people to develop symptoms of bipolar disorder.

A chemical imbalance in the brain can also lead to the development of bipolar disorder. When the chemicals within the brain, including various neurotransmitters like dopamine, are imbalanced, people’s energy levels and moods can be affected. These chemicals influence the way people feel and behave, so, abnormal levels will have a direct impact on an individual’s mood and state of mind.

One’s environment can also be a contributing factor. People who are exposed to violence, various types of abuse, traumatic experiences, and other negative environmental circumstances can affect people, causing symptoms of bipolar disorder. 

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

People who suffer from bipolar disorder experience various symptoms. Many of these symptoms and effects can be very difficult to work through. Bipolar disorder is mainly characterized by symptoms of mania and depression. Individuals who have this disorder tend to experience manic episodes as well as symptoms of severe depression.

Mania is an extreme emotional state characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and more. Many times, people who are experiencing a manic episode may have a sudden change in behavior. They may become highly active, growing talkative and acting impulsively. Sometimes, mania causes people to have poor judgment, leading them to do things they may not normally do. This could include reckless driving, impulsive shopping, and excessive talking.

Sometimes, manic episodes can also give individuals a sense of grandiosity. Individuals who experience this symptom may begin to behave recklessly or dangerously as a result of feeling invincible or remarkably strong.

Depressive episodes are often characterized by extreme sadness and irritability. Many individuals experience intense feelings of fear, concern, loneliness, and even anger. Some may even begin to feel hopeless or worthless. It can become very difficult for individuals to focus and concentrate during these episodes. Those who experience this depression may lose interest in things they usually enjoy, having no sense of excitement or enjoyment. 

The general symptoms of bipolar disorder will vary from person to person. But, some of the commonly seen effects of bipolar disorder include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Racing thoughts
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Shifts in appetite
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor self-image
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Lack of judgment
  • Episodes of anger

Many people who suffer from bipolar disorder deal with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. They may engage in self-harm and isolate themselves from others. Sometimes, this disorder can cause people to feel guilty or ashamed. It’s not always easy to deal with the effects of bipolar disorder. A lot of the individuals who have this disorder struggle to be understood by others and, as a result, may feel very lonely. These negative emotions and feelings can also cause individuals to become suicidal.

In some cases, people who have bipolar disorder engage in harmful activities in order to work through the symptoms of the disorder. They may turn to substance use, seeking relief through drugs and alcohol. But this approach to self-medication can cause people to become addicted to the substances they are using. This can be very harmful as these co-occurring problems can actually affect one another, causing the symptoms of each problem to become even worse.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism

If you’ve been dealing with the effects of bipolar disorder and alcoholism, you’re not alone. These problems co-occur more often than many people realize. In fact, about 70% of the individuals who have suffered from bipolar disorder have also dealt with addiction. 

The combination of bipolar disorder and alcoholism is very serious and should be treated as such. Those who suffer from these co-occurring disorders may experience an intensifying of negative emotions. Alcoholism can worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder, making it even more difficult for individuals to cope with the effects of their disorder. This, in turn, can lead individuals to drink more heavily, causing problems related to addiction.

Thankfully, dual diagnosis treatment programs can help people who are struggling with co-occurring problems, such as bipolar disorder and alcoholism. Here at Northbound Treatment Services, we offer this treatment to those who need help overcoming addiction and working through mental health disorders. So, if you or someone you know is in need of treatment, please contact us today by calling (855) 858-6803.

Additional Dual Diagnoses We Treat

Addiction and mental illness often go hand-in-hand. Treating one and not the other is ineffective. It’s paramount for an addiction treatment center to identify co-occurring disorders and to treat them in tandem with the addiction.





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