Tag Archives: episode

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Standard

“When I first got diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder,  I was in denial. For months after hearing doctor after doctor telling me the same thing I would still hide my meds, take drugs and do anything to prove I wasn’t crazy. But the hospital visits and psych ward continued to prove I was wrong. I was crazy.

“But being bipolar doesn’t mean your crazy. The more I learn about my disorder (reading articles, books and even digging into my past) I notice that I am not alone. I notice that these moments of clear insanity have a purpose, they have a name. There are reasons to me madness and now I finally have an opportunity to treat it.

“Its important that we are knowledgable about our (or your loved ones) diagnosis because it gives us the power and courage to live with it. This is an article I have found very helpful to myself as I live with bipolar and co-occurring addiction. It’s informative and concise, clearly describing the highs and lows of bipolar disorder.” -Love, Robyn

bipolar

Bipolar disorder, once commonly known as manic depression, is a serious mental disorder that is characterized by sudden and intense shifts in mood, behavior and energy levels. Like substance abuse, bipolar disorder poses a risk to the individual’s physical and emotional well-being. Those afflicted with bipolar disorder have a higher rate of relationship problems, economic instability, accidental injuries and suicide than the general population. They are also significantly more likely to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. According to statistics presented by the American Journal of Managed Care:

  • About 56 percent of individuals with bipolar who participated in a national study had experienced drug or alcohol addiction during their lifetime.
  • Approximately 46 percent of that group had abused alcohol or were addicted to alcohol.
  • About 41 percent had abused drugs or were addicted to drugs.
  • Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among bipolar individuals.

If you are struggling with bipolar disorder and with a drug or alcohol problem, you may have a Dual Diagnosis of bipolar disorder and substance abuse. Having a Dual Diagnosis, or a co-occurring disorder, can make recovery more challenging. Bipolar individuals may experience periods of intense depression alternating with episodes of heightened activity and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. This emotional instability can interfere with your recovery program, making it difficult to comply with the guidelines of your treatment plan.

Dual Diagnosis rehabilitation programs are designed to meet the needs of clients who are faced with this complex psychiatric condition. Staffed by specially trained and credentialed mental health professionals and addiction specialists, these centers offer care that integrates the best treatment strategies for bipolar disorder with the most effective treatments for addiction.

How Are Bipolar and Addiction Related?

There is no easy explanation for the high rate of substance abuse and chemical dependence among bipolar individuals. One reason for this phenomenon is that a large percentage of individuals attempt to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol in an effort to numb the painful symptoms of their bipolar disorder. Symptoms of bipolar disorder such as anxiety, pain, depression and sleeplessness are so alarming, that many individuals will turn to drugs and alcohol as a means for offsetting the discomfort, if only for a little while. On the other hand, the National Institute of Mental Health notes that drinking and using drugs may trigger depressed or manic moods in someone with bipolar disorder.

Age and gender may play a part in the relationship between bipolar and addiction. According to the journal, Bipolar Disorder and substance abuse is more common in young males than in other population groups.

Young men are more likely than females or older men to take dangerous risks or to act on serious self-destructive impulses. In elderly individuals with bipolar disorder, the incidence of substance abuse is much lower.

Clinical researchers believe that brain chemistry may influence both bipolar disorder and substance abuse. People with bipolar disorder often have abnormal levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, according to WebMD. These chemicals affect vital functions like appetite, metabolism, sleep and your body’s response to stress. They also affect mood and emotions. Heavy use of drugs or alcohol can interfere with the way your brain processes these chemicals, causing emotional instability, erratic energy levels and depression. People with bipolar disorder may turn to drugs or alcohol out of an unconscious need to stabilize their moods. Unfortunately, substance abuse has the opposite effect, making the symptoms of bipolar disorder worse.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

We all go through intense episodes of sadness, elation, anger or despair. But for someone who meets the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder, these episodes are all-consuming and uncontrollable. There are four major types of mood episodes that characterize bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania, depression and mixed episodes — each of which has a set of unique symptoms:

Symptoms of Mania

Mania is the “high” end of the mood spectrum for bipolar individuals. Symptoms may include:

  • Moments of tremendous optimism and significant pessimism
  • Grandiose feelings
  • Rapid talking
  • Little sleep
  • Impaired judgment, irrational behavior
  • Delusional behavior
  • Hallucinations

Symptoms of Hypomania

Symptoms are similar to those found in manic behavior but less intense. Hypomanic individuals are usually capable of managing their day-to-day lives, but they experience a higher than usual level of happiness, irritability or energy. You may feel that you’re capable of taking on more responsibility, or that you need less sleep. People in your life may find that you’re more talkative or sociable. You may also be more prone to engage in risk-taking behaviors, like substance abuse. Hypomanic periods are extremely productive for some people, and because psychotic symptoms do not occur in hypomania, it might seem that you don’t really have a problem.

Symptoms of Depression

At the “low” end of the bipolar spectrum is depression, an emotional state that is often characterized by sadness, tearfulness and despair. Depression in bipolar disorder may last for days or weeks, depending on your mood cycle. These periods are dangerous for Dual Diagnosis individuals, who have a higher risk of self-injury and suicide when they’re using drugs and alcohol during a low period. When you’re depressed, you may experience:

  • Hopeless feelings
  • Loss of interest in things that used to make you happy
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Self-loathing
  • Suicidal thoughts

Symptoms of Mixed Episodes

The symptoms of bipolar disorder aren’t always clearly defined. In a mixed episode, behaviors reflect a combination of mania and depression. For example, you may have suicidal feelings and a loss of interest in your daily activities, combined with racing thoughts, pressured speech and a loss of sleep.
You may feel the urge to drink or take drugs in an attempt to balance out these unpredictable mood swings, but intoxication is only a temporary fix that won’t provide permanent relief. To achieve a full recovery, you need professional treatment that helps you stabilize your moods as you deal with the cravings and destructive impulses that characterize addiction.

 

Advertisements

Take Five

Standard
Take Five

Sure enough(she really should’ve known) when it came to going up, she would come down. This rapid cycling has been going on for about two weeks now. Today she spent the whole day laying in her bed crying. Going over all the insanity she had experienced six months prior when she was in India. Every time she managed to stop, she burst end out in tears again. She decided to make some calls. After several failed attempts she finally reached a girl she had met in rehab.

Amy had been a good friend from the start. At the age of 19, with it being her first time in rehab, she had more in common than most of the other girls. They spoke about their dreams of travel and made up a master scheme to backpack around the US with all the money they would save in sobriety. But those dreams were about to be shattered… 

The moment she picked up her words formed in an endless stream, overwhelming Amy on the other line, “Hi! How are you!? I’m terrible, I don’t know what’s going on I’ve been crying non-stop and I just don’t know why I think its a bipolar flare up or something I know you don’t have bipolar but I just thought I’d see how you were doing I just need to talk to someone! How are you?! What are you doing?!” 

It didn’t take long for Amy to come out with her guilty truths. She had relapsed and judging on her tone and lack of inspiration, she wasn’t coming back just yet. She explained how she had ODed… 

Amy listened as she began to cry for her. “Oh! No! I feel like I want to relapse now! How could you? What’s going on? What made you relapse?!” 

Amy immediately replied, “No! Don’t relapse too, be strong! It’s just tough for me, so many things have been going on, I just can’t control…”

Ahh, but there lies the problem. Amy thought she had to control this. But that’s not it. Give it to your higher power. That’s what I’ve learned in NA and AA. It took her another phone call to a member of NA, Ryan, before she realized this. After that call she had prayed so hard she though God would get annoyed.

Ultimately it took her a long walk, a couple more calls before she was able to calm herself down. One girl, Tay, told her firmly that everything passes. Tay may not struggle with bipolar disorder but if there is anything she knows how to do, its lift people up when their down. When she hung up with her she felt empowered enough to get out of the house and keep her mind busy. Though that was another faulty idea, as her sister, Jacquelyn, pointed out. 

“You need to face your thoughts, not just dismiss them and burry them in your heart. You can’t escape from yourself or you disorder. You have to learn to live with it. It may not be who you are but it will always be apart of you.” Jacquelyn told her.

She found all of these people so gracious and understanding. She knew again– because she needed reminding– that she was loved and not alone

/a>