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What is the link between bipolar disorder and substance abuse?

Untreated bipolar disorder is commonly associated with substance use, abuse, and dependency. Many with the disorder will try to "self-medicate" to make themselves feel better instead of seeking treatment. Sixty percent of those who have bipolar disorder I abuse alcohol or drugs during their lifetime, a rate of abuse that is higher than that of any other psychiatric diagnosis. Those with both bipolar disorder and substance abuse have poorer outcomes, are more difficult to treat, and have an increased rate of suicide. Patients with a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and bipolar disorder require careful evaluation and the creation of more complex treatment plans.
A person with bipolar disorder may start using or abusing a substance because their bipolar disorder symptoms are so painful. Substance abuse is seductive because the immediate experience often is relief from painful emotions, but over time, this backfires. Soon the substance use itself changes from something to help with bipolar disorder symptoms to a trigger that causes the very symptoms the person was trying to ease. In other words, a behavior can start for one reason and then turn into something else. Without exception, alcohol and other forms of substance abuse always cause bipolar disorder to worsen. The facts are very clear here. If your partner continues to abuse alcohol or drugs, their chances for stability are greatly limited.
Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner (The New Harbinger Loving Someone Series)

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Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner (The New Harbinger Loving Someone Series)

Maintaining a relationship is hard enough without the added challenges of your partner’s bipolar disorder symptoms. Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder offers information and step-by-step advice...
Almost half of people with Bipolar Disorder also have a substance abuse disorder. Substance abuse worsens the risk of relapse of the Bipolar disorder so treatment of both aspects is required.

Continue Learning about Living With Bipolar Disorder

Living With Bipolar Disorder

Living With Bipolar Disorder

To manage your bipolar disorder on a daily basis, it is essential that your keep your therapy appointments and take your medications as prescribed. If you experience side effects that you find intolerable, discuss them with your d...

octor. It’s also important to live a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, plenty of sleep and a nutritious diet to avoid other health risks associated with bipolar. Take steps to reduce stress and surround yourself with supportive friends and family who can intervene during manic episodes. When it’s well treated, bipolar disorder should not prevent you from having an enjoyable and successful life.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.