Many people don’t realize the mass of complexities that are tied into a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mental illness. A dual diagnosis of these two can create a dependent relationship that may even intensify the symptoms and mood changes that go along with different mental illnesses.
Bipolar disorder is one of many mental illnesses that can be greatly affected by an additional diagnosis of substance abuse. In many cases, those who are diagnosed with both substance abuse and bipolar disorder have been found to self-medicate with different substances. Self-medication can be very dangerous and damaging to the patient. Bipolar victims tend to use substances to try and stop or lull the symptoms of their condition. In these cases, different substances can have different effects on the patient.
Downers, such as alcohol and marijuana are known for slowing down or stopping the many mood swings that go along with bipolar disorder. However, it has also been found that when these are continuously used as self-administered medication, patients can worsen their condition. Once the patient is off of these downers and addiction sets in it can cause the patient to be even more manic than without the use of these types of substances. One should understand that marijuana can act as a downer in some individuals and as a psychedelic in others. It is potentially one of the worst substances for those suffering with mental illness.
Drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines can worsen the patient’s condition even while in use. Uppers increase the activity of the central and peripheral nervous systems, which in a bipolar patient, is already hyperactive. To increase the nervous systems that are already overly active can cause severe mania and panic attacks.
Whether currently using drugs or alcohol or not, all bipolar patients are at risk to become addicted to or abuse these substances. It was said by the American Journal of Managed Care that around 56% of those who had been diagnosed with bipolar had suffered from a substance addiction at some point in their life. This journal also states that an estimated 46% have abused alcohol and 41% had abused other drugs or substances.
With these statistics, it is easy to see that people with bipolar disorder are at risk of abusing and becoming addicted to all different substances. Whether addicted to a substance or using it more casually, it can still worsen the conditions of these people and those advising or treating bipolar patients should guide them to not tamper with or to quit using these substances.
Treatments for each patient could be different due to the fact that no two people are the same. With that, treatment for bipolar disorder often includes medication that should not be mixed with other substances. This makes it even more difficult to treat those with a dual diagnosis of substance use disorder and bipolar disorder.
Rehab and detox centers staffed with substance abuse counselors are often a great help to those who need guidance with mental disorders and substance use. These treatment facilities give patients the opportunity to become and stay clean while correctly using medications. These medications can finally start to help patients improve once they are clean of drugs and alcohol.