With individuals suffering from dual diagnosis, a condition where substance addiction co-occurs with a mental illness, bipolar disorder is one of the more frequently encountered conditions. Once known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by sudden, extreme swings in mood and behavior. A national study of bipolar individuals found that 56 percent of the participants had experienced drug or alcohol addiction at some point in their lives.

The combination of bipolar disorder and substance addiction can create a circle of cause and effect that intensifies both conditions. Research has shown that individuals with bipolar disorder often have abnormal levels of chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters impact brain functions that control emotions along with appetite, metabolism and reaction to stress. Bipolar sufferers may turn to drugs and alcohol in an effort to self-medicate, but these substances actually interfere with the brain’s processes, intensifying the symptoms rather than relieving them.

Mood swings and fluctuating energy levels pose an additional difficulty for a patient’s recovery. Emotional instability can affect the individual’s desire or ability to follow the guidelines of the treatment plan. For instance, during a depressive episode the patient may lack the motivation to care for himself. Since the effects of addiction and bipolar are so similar, it can also be a challenge for caregivers to determine where one leaves off and the other begins.

Recovery for dual diagnosis patients is most successful when both conditions are treated simultaneously. For bipolar individuals, this could include medication to control their mental disorder so that the addiction problem can be more closely addressed. Psychotherapy is also valuable for teaching strategies to manage emotions and moods.

Transitions Recovery in Miami is one of the few facilities in the country specifically qualified to treat dual diagnosis patients. Please call 800-298-1783 to receive immediate assistance from a caring and knowledgeable member of our staff.