The Truth Addiction & Bipolar Disorder
The dual-diagnosis of Bipolar and Addiction Disorder is on the rise, but it has always existed. Since the beginning of time, people have looked to mind altering substances to medicate their mind or now more commonly known as 'self medicate'.
Self medicating a mental illness, diagnosed or not diagnosed, drives addiction and substance abuse. I can speak from personal experience when I say that. I am diagnosed with bipolar and addiction disorder, which in Lehman terms, I am an alcoholic with a bipolar mental illness.
My abuse of alcohol silenced the rapid thoughts and compulsions in my mind, at least I thought they did. Alcohol was my equalizer and allowed me to escape from the reality of life that was sitting in front of me. The more my bipolar cycled, the more I drank and the other way around. Addiction and Bipolar disorder is a viscous cycle that has no boundaries. If not properly diagnosed and treated by a medical professional, both disorders will eventually destroy you inside and out.
I did seek help for both my mental illness and addiction. I take 3 - 4 medications a day to combat my bipolar disorder and medicate myself with writing, reading and positive behavior / mind strategies to continue to live my life in active recovery from addiction.
Bipolar disorder is a spectrum and can not be defined to an exact criteria and neither can addiction. This is was causes the lack of understanding and stigma of mental health and addiction disorders.
Things to Know About Bipolar Disorder:
Individuals with bipolar disorder (also known as “manic depression”) are prone to sudden mood swings and rapid changes in energy level. They can “swing” from the highest highs to the lowest lows suddenly and without warning.
Those individuals with bipolar disorder experience a higher suicide rate than the rest of the general population.
There are four types of moods associated with bipolar disorder: mania (delusions of grandeur, rapid talking), hypomania (less intense versions of mania), depression (unable to get out of bed, bleak world view) and mixed episode (combinations of mania and depression).
Individuals with bipolar disorder who develop a dual diagnosis often start drinking or taking drugs in an effort to numb the symptoms of their mental condition -and “even out” their bipolar state.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder and drug addiction are often similar, including: depression, mood swings, hopeless feelings, social withdrawal, anxiety and other behaviors.
Studies have shown that individuals with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop a drug addiction after casual use, and find it much harder to quit. Drug addiction also takes what was already a high-suicide rate among bipolar individuals and pushes the risk factor even higher.
An individual with a co-existing bipolar disorder and addiction should seek out help only from those rehab facilities that specialize in treating dual diagnosis patients. Standard drug rehab facilities are not likely to have the psychiatric staff on hand to treat bipolar disorder.
The best treatment for a dual diagnosis patient is integrated care, in which the individual is treated for both mental illness and drug addiction under one roof, and in the course of the same program.
Dual diagnosis treatment often takes longer than standard drug rehab because doctors are aware of the fragility of those with a mental illness -and consequently move forward at a more deliberate pace.
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