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Co-Occurring Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder commonly co-occurs with substance use disorders. In fact, evidence indicates that as many as 30-50% of individuals suffering from bipolar disorder will develop a co-occurring substance use disorder at some point in their lives. Research suggests that bipolar disorder is underdiagnosed, and after years of living with an untreated mental health condition, individuals turn to drugs and alcohol for relief.

The dual diagnosis treatment program at Creative Care was designed with these individuals in mind. Our team treats their bipolar disorder at the same time as the substance use issues that have been masking it. To learn more about our residential dual diagnosis program, call us today.

Common Questions About Co-Occurring Bipolar Disorder

Co-occurring bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition that affects mood or emotions, often in the form of mood swings. Those suffering from it go through manic episodes, in which they may experience euphoria or high levels of energy. However, this may also manifest as irritability and insomnia. They also go through depressive episodes, during which they feel sad, hopeless, and worthless. These episodes are severe enough to affect their daily lives, increasing the risk of substance use. Substances like drugs and alcohol can offer temporary relief but tend to exacerbate symptoms in the long term.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder vary depending on how the condition is manifesting.

Manic episodes include:

  • High energy
  • Increased activity
  • Agitation
  • High confidence or euphoria
  • Racing thoughts
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Impulsivity

Depressive episodes include:

  • Low mood
  • Loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Troubled sleep patterns, i.e., too much or too little

In addition to these symptoms, one could feature substance use issues. The individual continues to use a particular substance despite the problems it’s causing in their lives.

Research points to genetic and environmental factors in the development of both co-occurring bipolar disorder and the substance use issues that accompany it. A family history of bipolar disorder is a strong indicator of potentially developing this disorder. Additionally, high-stress events like trauma, abuse, and neglect are also risk factors. Drug and alcohol abuse can also trigger manic and depressive episodes.

Co-occurring bipolar disorder requires dual diagnosis treatment. Treating this disorder on its own is ineffective as an active substance use disorder will continue to trigger bipolar episodes. By the same token, treating the substance use disorder separately will fail as the underlying condition driving that disorder remains untreated. A dual diagnosis approach treats the problem and its dysfunctional solution holistically, attending to the unhealed root of both.

Creative Care has over 30 years of experience helping individuals manage and overcome co-occurring conditions like bipolar disorder. For compassionate, innovative treatment, call Creative Care today.