Bipolar Disorder

Co-Occurring Bipolar Disorder And Substance Abuse Counseling In San Diego, CA

Bipolar (BP) causes drastic mood swings with intense highs and lows that range from manic to depressive. More than 5 million people in the U.S. are affected by this disorder, according to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health. People of any age can have bipolar disorder, although men tend to show symptoms at an earlier age than women. The average age a person is diagnosed between their early and mid twenties, despite showing signs of BP during adolescence or young adulthood.

This disorder – formerly referred to as “manic depression” – causes dramatic changes in a person’s emotional state. It affects their cognitive functioning, judgement and behavior. A bipolar person may bounce back and forth from a manic high into a deep depression in a short period of time. This often creates difficulties in their personal and professional lives, such as strained relationships, troubles at work or school, and a greater risk of suicide or self-harm.

Episodes of bipolar disorder follow no regular pattern – they can last for days or weeks at a time, and they may happen several times a week or only a few times a year. 

There are four main types of bipolar disorder episodes.

  • Manic episodes: Someone having a manic episode may experience emotions at opposite ends of the spectrum – extremely upbeat and cheerful, or excessively irritable and hostile toward others. They often have a very short attention span, jumping from one topic or activity to another, and they become very talkative. It’s not unusual for someone experiencing a manic episode to exhibit erratic behavior such as making questionable investments or going on shopping sprees. These episodes normally last a week or more.
  • Hypomanic episodes: These are similar to manic episodes but for a shorter time span, normally lasting about three or four days, Also, the symptoms are not always as pronounced.
  • Major depressive episodes: Someone in a depressive episode feels sad – they are often listless and uninterested in being around other people or participating in any type of group activities. They often lose interest in eating, which leads to fatigue, a lack of energy and weight loss. They may experience feelings of restlessness and guilt, and in extreme depressive episodes they may contemplate suicide. These episodes typically last two weeks or more.
  • Mixed episodes: Some people have mixed episodes that include symptoms of manic, hypomanic and major depressive episodes all at the same time.

Physicians and researchers have not established a clear cause of bipolar disorder, but genetics, environmental factors and brain structure may all be contributing factors. If a person’s parent or sibling has the disorder, for example, they are more likely to develop the disorder than someone else. Abnormalities in brain structure may also increase the likelihood of a person developing the disorder, and a disruptive environment – illness, traumatic experiences, extreme stress, etc. – may also play a role.

Bipolar Disorder And Substance Abuse

It’s not uncommon for people with bipolar disorder to also struggle with substance abuse. Research has shown they are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than the general population. About 60 percent of people with the disorder also have a history of substance abuse, one study found.

The symptoms of drug use can sometimes appear similar to the symptoms of bipolar disorder. For example, someone using cocaine may appear much like someone experiencing a manic episode – they both have increased energy and a hyperactive mood. Likewise, a person experiencing intense withdrawal symptoms may resemble someone going through a depressive episode.

Because these symptoms overlap and appear similar, it’s important to seek help from professionals trained in knowing the differences and identifying both disorders. This dual diagnosis is important when formulating a recovery plan that treats both disorders simultaneously during drug and alcohol rehab. At Hope Canyon, we specialize in treating co-occurring disorders. Our team can help you overcome your addiction and your bipolar disorder at the same time, giving you the best opportunity to complete a successful recovery.