Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

It is very common for those who struggle with substance abuse to also struggle with an additional mental illness or disorder. One of the more common dual diagnoses with Substance Abuse is Bipolar Disorder.  More than half of those seeking treatment for Bipolar Disorder are also in treatment for substance abuse.

It’s important to understand Bipolar Disorder, identify it and treat it affectively. Of course, life is full of ups and down and part of being human is experiencing a range of emotions. However, Bipolar Disorder (a.k.a Manic Depressive Disorder) is characterized by extreme and unusual shifts in mood, emotion, and productiveness.

Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder about 3 percent of the U.S. population have. This mental illness usually surfaces in adolescence and in early adulthood and is a lifelong illness. Similar to substance abuse treatment, Bipolar Disorder must be carefully treated and supported throughout a person’s life.

Diagnosing someone with Bipolar Disorder can be complicated. Many times, people will be diagnosed with something like Depression before getting properly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This delay in diagnosis can postpone or prevent treatment.

Studies show that about 60% of those with Bipolar Disorder will abuse drugs or alcohol. If Substance Abuse goes untreated, it makes the road to recovery from Bipolar nearly impossible. When someone abuses drugs and/or alcohol, it affects mood and behavior which can also mimic symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. This is why detoxing from substances is an imperative piece in the beginning stages of treatment.

Thrive Treatment℠ Center understands how crucial it is to provide a safe and superlative detox in order for treatment to be successful and long term. Once someone with substance abuse has fully detoxed, highly qualified psychiatrists and therapists can accurately diagnose patients.

The following characteristics could be symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and or Substance Abuse:

Sudden mood change.

Periods of unusual personality change like hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness.

Significantly decreased need for sleep.

Racing speech, flight of ideas, impulsiveness.

Poor financial choices.

Difficulty sleeping; early-morning awakening

There are many other symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse.

Having a Dual Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse can make treatment more difficult. In order to provide ample treatment, substance abuse treatment should occur at the same time as Bipolar Disorder treatment and in the same program.

Some of the treatment plans offered include medications and different forms of therapy. The most successful therapy modalities used are Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy and Trauma Therapies.

Recovering from Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse is very possible and treatment is effective! Thrive Treatment℠ Centers are a great place to recover and staff can guide clients to the road of recovery from Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse.

bipolar disorder and substance abuse

A New Definition

As I thought about what to write for my first official Thrive Blog post I pondered what is the core of what we do and why? Every time a client arrives I ask them the question “Why are you here, and what do you want”?  Asking myself the same question, I answer, I am here because I have had a life changing experience with my own path of recovery and I want to be a part of someone else’s journey. What do I want? I want you to enjoy this blog post…. Hey, if I ask my clients to be rigorously honest, I have to be too right? What do I also want? I want the people that walk through our doors to have the hope that they don’t have to live the life they were living before they got to us. Often, they show up with the narrative that they are “bad people who are doomed to live a sad life “ They think, they have tried to change before and failed, they will probably fail this time too. They think, their addiction is their identity, and they can’t possibly live without drugs and alcohol. They think they have a better idea. I thought the same thing about myself at one point, so I am honored to be here to show them they can have recovery, mended relationships, and love themselves.

Whether a client shows up because they themselves are desperate to get help or a parent/the law is making them doesn’t exactly matter to me. (Even though it sure is nice when they want to be there!) I believe that each human being, addict or not wants to love and be loved. I don’t know where in our time line these wires get crossed, but if we take the beautiful invitation to heal, everyone can with action and willingness. When I ask anyone what they want, I’ve never heard “I want to be homeless, my family to be disappointed in me, be in a prison of my mind and a slave to substance abuse” So how does this happen? How do we give in to these dark behaviors and lose ourselves? As a family or non-addict member of society you think, how could someone do this? Can’t they just stop? What is wrong with them? There are a bunch of answers and reasons “Why”. We could simply say Addiction, mental illness, the lack of spirituality or community. There are many theories and definitions.  There is no perfect recipe as to what makes someone become an addict but once you know you are one, there is a solution! We can live on the merry go round of why forever or we can be in acceptance and take action.

Someone can approach us offering 1 billion dollars to get back yesterday, and that would be impossible. Yet, we can be consumed with self-pity and the thought if I only didn’t do “that”, then it would be okay. One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is “We do the best we can, till we know better, than we do better”.  When you arrive in treatment- guess what! You are trying to do better, whether you want to be there or not, you’re sitting across from me. A lot of the time, they don’t see that. They carry shame with the fact that they are there and judge themselves for being an addict. The stigma of a using addict is quite grim. They are often held up to the standard of being, liars, cheats and people that just can’t cope. Which is usually a deserved definition from the wreckage we create. With that being the definition who the hell would wanna be an addict?

I have a different definition that is also true. To me an addict in recovery is the most courageous, beautiful, authentic kind of person. They are forced to get to the bottom of their souls, get help and have the possibility of completely doing a 180, recovering whom they really are.  With connection, support and hard work they transform. With this new bright light within they help each other asking for nothing in return. To feel the pain and self-hatred of addiction to the shift of perception of gratitude is by far the most profound experience I have ever had. There is a path to recovery that works. I never thought in a million years I would like myself let alone love myself. Can you write yourself a love letter? If your head is telling you to not reach out and connect, can you anyway? To me this is the answer. Whatever you think people won’t understand, they will. If you think you are the only one, you’re not. I believe inside of us there is a hero and villain. If our lives were a movie, what kind of movie would we want to watch? Don’t we want to see a hero prevail and overcome their battle? Each day we have that choice. Even if someone is acting out, believing the voices in their head that says they aren’t enough, and it won’t ever work out, the hero holds on. The delusion created, the stories we tell ourselves are just that. If we show up, there is a chance to not only a higher level of consciousness but also the infinite possibilities that this human experience has to offer to us.

Recovery isn’t guaranteed. It is precious and ever changing. There are ebbs and flows. It is in the low, darkest hour of our minds that if we just stay, get honest, ask for help, I know we got a shot. Everyone. There is no lost cause. One of my favorite little saying is: I for illness, WE for Wellness.  Together we can heal the root, create a new narrative, shift our perception, and live a life we never thought we could.

Elissa Rosenthal

Program Director

Thrive Treatment℠