Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

Some studies have found that approximately half of those that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder struggle with substance abuse as well. The chaos and flood of overwhelming feelings associated with rapid cycling can cause individuals to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Bipolar is characterized by manic highs and periods of extreme lows. An individual in the middle of a manic episode will act out impulsively and irrationally. They may participate in high risk behaviors, such as drug use. During this “high” they may think they are doing great, unaware of the dangerous situations they put themselves in. Manic episodes are often followed by periods of crushing depression. The depressive symptoms often include feelings of worthlessness and regret and loss of energy and enjoyment in activities.

Because the symptoms of bipolar disorder and the behaviors of active addiction are so similar, one disorder can often mask the other, making it difficult to diagnosis. If an individual has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder but continues to abuse drugs and alcohol, any treatment, including medication, they receive for their mental illness cannot be fully effective.

Dual diagnosis treatment refers to the process of treating both disorders alongside each other. Until the substance abuse issue is addressed, a proper diagnosis cannot be made. A rehab center that specializes in dual diagnosis treatment offers clients a combination of therapeutic and psychiatric services with a strong focus on recovery. Relapse prevention groups place a strong emphasis on the way both illnesses can exacerbate one another and how to focus on recovering from both. For example, an individual can go to 12 Step meetings, get a sponsor and begin working the steps, but if he or she does not take the steps to treat their bipolar disorder, such as get on the correct medication and meet regularly with a psychiatrist, they made find themselves susceptible to relapse.

There is a Solution can help you or your loved one get help. We specialize in finding the proper level and type of care for your specific needs. We work with a large network of detox centers, outpatient clinics, residential treatment facilities, dual diagnosis treatment centers, intensive outpatient programs and sober living residences. We can help you find a recovery program that accepts your insurance or can provide an affordable financial option. To speak with someone today, call 1-800-832-5250. Our caring staff is available 24/7 to answer your questions.

How are Anxiety and Addiction Connected?


If you are concerned that you or someone you love may be suffering from addiction and/or anxiety, call 1-800-832-5250 to learn more about the treatment of co-occurring disorders.

Anxiety can manifest itself through symptoms that are physical, mental or both. It is the most commonly diagnosed mental illness. Stress, loss of a job, trauma, the end of a relationship, financial difficulties—all factors that can lead to an increased sense of anxiety. For someone suffering from anxiety, they may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. It may start as a drink after work to relax or a sleeping pill at night to help calm the racing thoughts. These individuals are then vulnerable to becoming mentally and physically dependent on substances. Individuals prescribed benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Xanax or Ativan, are also at risk of becoming addicted to these medications.

Anxiety can be both a cause and a symptom of drug use. Once you stop using drugs and alcohol for a sustained period of time, an evaluation from a medical professional can help determine a proper diagnosis. Both illnesses share many of the symptoms:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Isolating
  • Lack of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • High risk behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts

Dual diagnosis treatment is used to treat co-morbidity. This involves working with an addictions psychiatrist who can prescribe non-addictive anti-anxiety medication to help you become stabilized so that you may focus on your recovery program. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has also been shown to be an effective treatment method. CBT teaches clients to replace negative thought patterns with ones that more accurately reflect a positive reality. What we think and the beliefs we hold affect our actions and behaviors. For example, if you think “I am worthless” your actions and the way you interact with others with reflect this belief and you will incorrectly interpret situations in a way that reinforces this belief. CBT helps clients gain a new perspective that promotes healing and growth.

There is a Solution is a treatment placement service. Depending on your drug and psychiatric history, we can recommend a facility that is best able to help you begin your recovery process. There is a better way to live—call There is a Solution today to speak with one of our care coordinators and learn more about your different treatment options. You can speak with someone 24/7 by calling 1-800-832-5250.