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The Connection Between Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

Published by Daniel Brooks Moore (some content may be aggregated) on

If you are struggling with bipolar disorder, you are also at a higher risk for abusing drugs and alcohol. Because bipolar disorder means you experience extreme low periods along with manic high periods, you might begin using drugs and alcohol to either retain the euphoric feelings of the manic period or to make these extreme emotions more manageable. This increased use of substances can then lead to addiction. This is the strong connection that exists between bipolar disorder and substance abuse.

Why Do People Who Suffer from Bipolar Disorder Abuse Substances

Person drinking in the dark dealing with bipolar disorder and substance abuse

When you suffer from bipolar disorder, you experience chaotic feelings, which can quickly go from euphoric moods to deep depression. The faster you go through these moods, the more intense they become. Your response might be to use alcohol and other substances to help you feel like you are in control. Doing this might seem like a good idea because the substances used affect the same brain chemicals affected by the extreme mood swings, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. However, this need for control often develops into abuse and addiction. And the abuse of drugs or alcohol sometimes intensifies the mood swings instead of managing them. When you try to quit using substances, and you suffer from bipolar disorder, the task can seem impossible.

Beginning the Detox Process

A quality medical detox program is the first thing you must do to begin the recovery process. In detox, you eliminate the substances you are abusing. During detox, you will experience physical and emotional effects as you go through withdrawal. These effects will vary in intensity depending on the substances you are cleaning out of your body. During the detox process, you will also meet with a licensed therapist to go over your needs and to design a detox program that works for you, including therapy for your bipolar disorder.

How to Treat Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

Bipolar disorder and substance abuse are both very serious conditions. If you are suffering from both, you need to treat both from the very beginning. Detox programs can begin to address both the abuse and the bipolar disorder through the detox services and programs offered, such as:

  • Dual diagnosis therapy
  • Addiction counseling
  • Relapse prevention education
  • Mens detox program
  • Womens detox program
  • Meditation therapy



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