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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Bipolar Disorder and Drug AddictionBipolar disorder—the larger condition that includes bipolar depression—is a lifelong, or chronic, illness. It’s a condition that affects the brain in a way that can cause extreme mood swings that vary in length. People with bipolar disorder can go from mania (the “highs”)—feeling euphoric or revved up and irritable—to depression (the “lows”)—feeling down or hopeless. These highs and lows are called “episodes.”

Here are some important facts about the condition:

  • Affects about 12.3 million people in the United States and as many as 60 million people worldwide
  • Half of all patients begin seeing symptoms between the ages of 15 and 25, but it can begin at any age
  • There is no cure, but for many people the symptoms can be controlled with treatment
  • Bipolar disorder is sometimes referred to as manic depression
  • Some people may experience mood swings that are less extreme than a full manic episode, known as hypomania
Destin Recovery’s Dual Diagnosis rehabilitation programs are designed to meet the needs of clients who are faced with this complex psychiatric condition. Staffed by specially trained and credentialed mental health professionals and addiction specialists, our center offer care that integrates the best treatment strategies for bipolar disorder with the most effective treatments for addiction. Roland Reeves, MD

Genetic Overlap Between Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

According to a recent literature analysis by Dr. Ranga Krishnan of Duke University Medical Center, more than half of people with bipolar disorder also have a substance use disorder. New findings suggest than genes contribute to this comorbidity. One-third of the genes that have been linked with bipolar disorder in four recent studies have also been associated with substance dependence, according to Dr. George R. Uhl and colleagues at the NIDA Intramural Research Program.

Source:  NIH Article.  American Journal of Medical Genetics: Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics 150B(2):182-190, 2009. [Abstract]

Treatmen Hope for People with Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

Substance abuse compounds the problems of people with bipolar disorder. Individuals with this comorbidity get less benefit from their mood disorder treatment, recover more slowly from mood swings, spend more time in hospitals, and are more prone to committing suicide. They also are less responsive to drug abuse treatment than noncomorbid individuals, but a new psychosocial intervention may partially alleviate this disadvantage. The intervention, called integrated group therapy (IGT), simultaneously focuses on substance abuse and bipolar disorder. In a recent NIDA-funded clinical trial, IGT reduced patients’ substance use more than standard substance abuse group counseling did.

“People with these disorders often feel hopeless about ever getting better,” says Dr. Roger D. Weiss, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. “They often feel that no matter what they do, it doesn’t help; so they may stop trying.” Dr. Weiss and colleagues developed and tested IGT with support from NIDA’s Behavioral and Integrative Treatment Development Program.

Source: Learn More about this difficult-to-treat dual-disorder population.

Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder

Like substance abuse, bipolar disorder poses a risk to the individual’s physical and emotional well-being. Those afflicted with bipolar disorder have a higher rate of relationship problems, economic instability, accidental injuries and suicide than the general population. They are also significantly more likely to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. According to statistics presented by the American Journal of Managed Care:

  • About 56 percent of individuals with bipolar who participated in a national study had experienced drug or alcohol addiction during their lifetime.
  • Approximately 46 percent of that group had abused alcohol or were addicted to alcohol.
  • About 41 percent had abused drugs or were addicted to drugs.
  • Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among bipolar individuals.

If you or a loved one are struggling with bipolar disorder and with a drug or alcohol problem, you may have a Dual Diagnosis of bipolar disorder and substance abuse. Having a Dual Diagnosis, or a co-occurring disorder, can make recovery more challenging. Bipolar individuals may experience periods of intense depression alternating with episodes of heightened activity and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. This emotional instability can interfere with your recovery program, making it difficult to comply with the guidelines of your treatment plan.

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