Alcoholism and Bipolar Disorder

Drinking excessively serves as an escape for many people and a form of self-medication that can help them ease any distress they are experiencing for a temporary period of time. Alcoholism is associated with a number of different mental health disorders but people with bipolar disorder tend to prominently struggle with their drinking habits. Bipolar disorder and alcohol dependency is a common co-occurring disorder and the two issues are closely linked for a few different reasons. People with bipolar disorder have a certain brain chemistry caused by genetic differences that can also affect the way the brain responds to alcohol making someone more at risk for addiction. Aside from these inherited traits, people with bipolar disorder also drink because they have severe mood swings and feel the need to reduce their depression and anxiety or manage their manic episodes.

The Dangers of Alcohol and Mental Health

It may be common for people suffering from bipolar disorder to seek refuge from their symptoms through alcohol but they usually do not realize the consequences of their actions. Drinking is known to worsen symptoms of depression and will eventually make mood swings more intense, causing them to drink even more to compensate. What follows is the vicious cycle of addiction as their substance abuse worsens their mental health and their disorder continues to fuel their drinking. Bipolar disorder and alcoholism can be a very dangerous combination that often leads to more hospitalizations, an increase in mood swings and in some cases, violence or suicidal tendencies. Because of the inherent dangers in having a co-occurring disorder, it is important for people with bipolar disorder and alcoholism to get specialized treatment for both issues. Mental health problems can dramatically increase the risk of relapse if the symptoms are not treated in conjunction with a person’s addiction.

Facts about Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol

  • People with bipolar disorder are eleven times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than the general population.
  • Alcohol is the leading precipitator of depressive episodes in people with the disorder
  • 46.2% of people with severe bipolar disorder have an alcohol dependency.
  • People with the illness often choose substances over medication for fear of mixing the two.
  • Manic episodes can lead to excessive drinking because of their increased risk taking behavior.

To effectively treat a person with bipolar disorder and an alcohol problem it is necessary for them to get help from dual diagnosis experts that specialize in treating the two problems. Dr. Paul’s By The Sea has programs available for patients that need to recover both from their substance abuse issues and their developing mental illness. Bipolar disorder can be an especially difficult illness to live with and the struggles of an addiction only make the situation more complicated and painful to experience. Our therapists and counselors are trained to understand the influence of specific psychological issues on substance abuse. Our staff has the experience and ability to help those that are dealing with these complex issues so that they can make a full recovery. Even with a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder it is possible to live drug and alcohol free, improve psychological health and lead a more productive and positive life through dual diagnosis recovery treatment.