Alcohol Abuse and Bipolar Disorder

Alcohol abuse and bipolar disorderAlcoholism and bipolar disorder occur more often together than either disease occurs on its own. According to the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) and the National Institute of Mental Health’s Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study, 60.7 percent of people with bipolar disorder also have some type of substance abuse issue. More than 40 percent have an alcohol abuse disorder. The relationship between the two disorders is unclear, but there may be a genetic predisposition to both. In some cases, bipolar disorder is present first, and alcoholism becomes a problem when the disease is uncontrolled. In other cases, alcoholism may reveal an undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

Causes of Alcohol Abuse with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder brings with it times of extreme happiness and extreme depression. These severe mood swings can trigger the desire to use alcohol or other substances. This is especially true when the bipolar disorder is undiagnosed or untreated. Because these two diseases are so closely linked to each other, it is often difficult to know which occurred first. Since people with bipolar disorder are five times more likely to develop alcoholism than the rest of the population, it is important to understand what can trigger alcohol abuse in a person with bipolar disorder. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, look for the following symptoms:

  • Poor medication compliance: Often people with bipolar disorder stop taking their medication when they feel good. When things begin to spin out of control, they may turn to alcohol rather than getting back on medication to deal with the symptoms of the disease.
  • Heightened bipolar symptoms: People with well-managed bipolar disorder can experience a sudden increase in symptoms. This can be due to health problems, periods of stress or difficulties with relationships. During these times of increased symptoms, those with bipolar disorder are more likely to turn to alcohol.
  • Poor treatment outcomes: A person with bipolar disorder who has been in treatment may not be satisfied with his or her experience, level of medication or overall treatment plan and may turn to alcohol to deal with these feelings.

If you or a loved one deal with bipolar disorder and are struggling in any of these areas, it is time to get help.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism

The most important part of treatment for both bipolar disorder and alcoholism is a proper diagnosis. Dual Diagnosis treatment is available in many rehab facilities. Dual Diagnosis treatment helps doctors and therapists determine if there are any underlying mental illnesses present, such as bipolar disorder, which are causing the alcoholism. Through proper diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, the person struggling with alcoholism can understand his or her addiction and receive the right medication, psychotherapy and counseling for his or her unique situation. Dual Diagnosis treatment for bipolar disorder and alcoholism is the best way for people struggling with these issues to live a life free from addiction.

Find Help for Alcoholism and Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop alcoholism than those who have no history of mental illness. If you or a loved one struggle with alcoholism and suspect there may be an underlying mental illness, we are here to help you. Our trained helpline counselors are ready to answer your questions about addiction and help you find a treatment program that is right for you. Call our toll-free number; we are available 24 hours a day.