Types of Substances Abused by Individuals with Bipolar Disorder

Types of Substances Abused by Individuals with Bipolar Disorder

Individuals with bipolar disorder abuse drugs and alcohol at higher rates than the average population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Friends and family who are aware of this risk may quickly notice the danger signs of abuse in those suffering from bipolar disorder.

Alcohol and Bipolar Disorder

Alcoholism is a common co-occurring disorder for individuals with bipolar disorder. Individuals are most likely to abuse alcohol when they are having a manic episode, which produces euphoria. NIMH’s Epidemiologic Catchment Area studied psychological conditions and found that 56 percent of people with bipolar disorder reported substance abuse issues, 27.6 percent reported alcohol dependence and 16.1 percent reported alcohol abuse.

When people with bipolar disorder abuse substances, the symptoms of their disease can get worse. These aggravated symptoms make it especially important to receive help.

Substances and Bipolar Disorder

Illegal substances and illicit prescription drug use can be especially dangerous for people with bipolar disorder, according to information in Bipolar Disorders: A Guide to Helping Children and Adolescents. A few drugs (such as marijuana, downers, alcohol and opiates) can lessen the effects of mood episodes for a limited time, but can cause more intense symptoms later. Other drugs can intensify manic episodes, such as speed (methamphetamine) and cocaine, and then leave users severely depressed. Meanwhile hallucinogens like LSD and PCP can create psychotic symptoms.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is an issue that affects a person’s mood and energy levels. The disease’s symptoms can be severe and destroy relationships, weaken performance in school or at a job and sometimes contribute to suicide.

Individuals with bipolar disorder may not realize for years they have a disease. The symptoms can start as early as the late teens or during early adulthood and reveals itself in states known as mood episodes. During the manic period, a person may have an unusually high level of energy and believe he can do almost anything. He may engage in high-risk behaviors during this time. During the depressive episode, a person will lose interest in activities he used to enjoy and feel a complete loss of energy. He may have trouble concentrating and have suicidal thoughts.

The duration and severity of each mood episode may change during a person’s life. While bipolar disorder is a serious illness, it can be treated with medications and talk therapy.