A Better Today

Bipolar Disorder &
Dual Diagnosis

Treating Co-occurring Disorders & Substance Abuse: The Root of Your Addiction Could be a Bipolar Disorder

A Better Today understands the link between bipolar and substance use disorders. Over half of individuals struggling with bipolar disorder symptoms have experienced substance abuse at some point in their lives. The frequent highs and lows experienced by those who suffer from bipolar disorder are often a source of great mental and emotional pain from which individuals seek relief—often with drugs and Alcohol.

We realize that people who often self-medicate to relieve symptoms of bipolar disorders unknowingly enter into a vicious cycle of mental instability and substance abuse. If an individual is self-medicating to cope with the pain of bipolar disorder, they deserve treatment that will address not just one, but both conditions. A Better Today understands that for a person to successfully recover from drugs and Alcohol addiction, mental health disorders must be treated as well. Our clinicians diligently examine and look for signs of co-occurring disorders in our clients. 

We believe it is better to leave no stone unturned. A Better Today understands that getting the proper treatment can help effectively shut the door on Substance abuse and pave way for long-term recovery.

Empowering Clients with Knowledge

Ron Fritz is a co-occurring disorder therapist that understands how important saving lives and healing families is to A Better Today. Educating parents and clients about dual diagnosis and substance abuse is his passion when it comes to providing quality care.

22% of mental health cases also have substance use disorders associated or contributing to the severity of the problem.

What Does a Bipolar Disorder Look Like?

Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is a mental illness that is characterized by intense mood changes of highs and lows. People suffering from a bipolar disorder may experience frequent changes in their mood, sleep, energy, thoughts and behaviors. They can go through intense mental and emotional pain as their mood spectrum goes from intense highs to depressive lows.

The intense highs of bipolar are called “manic episodes.” Manic episodes can be characterized by over confidence, delusions of grandeur, and over excitement. A person experiencing a manic episode can also be very irritable and begin to display risky and reckless behavior.

The lows of a Bipolar disorder are known as “depressive states” and they mimic the symptoms of clinical depression. An individual can feel hopeless, sad, and worthless during these episodes. Prolonged depressive states can result in suicidal behavior.

Those who have a bipolar disorder can experience a mid-range mood in between these highs and lows where they may feel temporarily normal. For those with extreme cases of bipolar disorder, this does not last long. More than any other mental health disorder, those with bipolar are more likely to turn to substance abuse to self-medicate.

Why Do People with a Bipolar Disorder Self-medicate with Drugs & Alcohol

The reason why those with a bipolar disorder tend to use Alcohol and drugs to self-medicate varies. For some, it is a way to bring themselves back up from the lows of the disorder. For others, it is a way to attempt to stabilize themselves and get back onto a middle ground when they are having an extreme manic episode. And some, unfortunately, feel a sense of identity in their manic episodes and will use certain drugs like stimulants to bring them back up to that energetic feeling of grandiosity that bipolar highs produce.

Individuals who are mixing prescribed psychiatric medications with illicit drugs or Alcohol are putting themselves at great risk. Mixing these can be fatal or life threatening. A Better Today believes that the lifestyle of self-medicating for undiagnosed mental disorders it is not worth the risk.

When an individual uses drugs and Alcohol it only works for a short period of time to help them achieve the desired state. The cycle can go on for years, leaving those with a dual-diagnosis untreated. The good news is that no matter how bad things have become, our medical professionals understand co-occurring disorders and the importance of treating each disorder simultaneously.

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Learn about the addicted brain and find confidence that you can manage your addiction once you embrace living in recovery.

Trust in ABT to provide you with care that promotes long-term recovery.

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Why is it Important to Treat Both Bipolar and Substance Abuse Disorders Simultaneously?

When a bipolar disorder and a substance addiction develop in someone’s life, it greatly increases the potential for negative consequences in a person’s life. The highs and lows of bipolar disorder can cause mental frustration, emotional pain and turmoil. Too often are the symptoms of an undiagnosed mental disorder the reason that leads a person to heavily abusing drugs and alcohol.

A person struggling in active addiction tends to be unaware that they are also dealing with an undiagnosed bipolar disorder. When drug and Alcohol abuse begins, they do not realize that they are self-medicating to control the symptoms of the bipolar disorder. This destructive behavior of self-medicating causes the person to be dependent on that substance for every symptom their bipolar disorder causes, which quickly leads to an addiction that will eventually spiral out of control.

This is why A Better Today believes treating substance abuse without treating the mental health disorder, such as bipolar disorder, is ineffective. If the substance abuse problem is addressed but not the bipolar disorder, the individual will continue to experience the painful symptoms that come along with it, increasing the risk of relapse after treatment is completed.

If an individual has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is self-medicating with drugs and Alcohol, seeking help now can save their life. A Better Today offers many different treatment and therapy options such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, trauma therapy and more. Our master level clinicians understand the importance of individualized treatment and how it is the most effective method for treating both the addiction and the co-occurring disorder.

What are the Signs of a Bipolar Disorder?

Recent studies have shown that bipolar disorder is more common than previously thought. Unfortunately, diagnosis of a bipolar disorder is often missed and individuals can go for years, unaware of their disorder. Some common signs of a bipolar disorder are mood swings, sadness, elevated mood, intense anxiety, apathy, euphoria, apprehension and loss of interest or pleasure in much loved activities.

The behavioral signs can range from rapid speech, risk taking, disorganized behavior, agitation, crying, an overactive sex drive, hyperactivity, aggression and more. Cognitive symptoms are overactive or obsessive thoughts, an inability to concentrate, delusions and a false sense of superiority, while the psychological signs are depression, manic-episodes, agitated depression or paranoia.

Those struggling with a bipolar disorder can also experience insomnia or have long periods of excessive sleepiness. Many times, when these signs are present, individuals tend to chalk it up as stress or a long day at work. When the symptoms go untreated for a long period of time, it is common for an individual to begin using drugs and Alcohol to alleviate the pain of these symptoms. Unfortunately, drugs and Alcohol only further complicate and hinder proper treatment.

Get the Right Type of Treatment that Suits Your Needs

Why is There a Stigma Surrounding a Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse?

It seems that most mental health disorders come with a negative stigma. For a person struggling with a dual-diagnosis of a bipolar and substance use disorder, the stigma is double. ABT understands how stigma can prevent an individual from seeking help and we urge the men and women who come into our program to not allow that stigma to get in the way of their treatment.

A Better Today is a stigma-free, positive and supportive environment. We educate and teach our patients about co-occurring disorders, the disease model of addiction and the stigma that is associated with it. We understand that seeking treatment for a bipolar disorder can bring on many negative feelings.

Although acceptance of addiction has come a long way, many continue to have a negative opinion of mental health disorders. We believe the more we squash the stigma, the better it will be for those seeking treatment. Less stigma means more honest and open discussions about disorders that affect many Americans.

We also want our patients to learn to show acceptance and compassion to themselves. The more our patients learn to accept and love themselves and understand their co-occurring disorders, the closer they will get to their idea of success in recovery. A Better Today believes that if we help educate our patients about the disease model of addiction and bipolar disorder.

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