As alcohol boosts an individual’s “self esteem” and confidence level, manic patients consume larger amounts to undergo extreme levels of gratification. On the complete opposite end, when a bipolar patient is in the depressive mode, they consume various substances to feel normal and elevated. Consumption of alcohol or intake of any other drug substance, such as opioid pain killers, helps by numbing and reducing the depressive symptoms. Some individuals also report that drugs help them manage issues of insomnia and anxiety as well.
Almost 56% of individuals suffering from bipolar disorder are also diagnosed with substance and alcohol dependence. The most popular drug choices among bipolar patients are alcohol, marijuana, opioids, tranquilizers, cocaine and amphetamines. Most drugs are used with the combination of alcohol to obtain an elevated effect. Apart from the self medicating behavior, poor judgment and impulsivity may also be major reason of abusing drugs in bipolar patients.
Individuals with bipolar disorder have a great tendency to abuse drugs as a self medicating behavior but in some cases, people might develop bipolar symptoms as a result of excess drug use. Substance Induced Bipolar Disorder can be described as mood disruption due to over consumption of alcohol or other drugs. In such cases, bipolar symptoms are not present before the use of any alleged substance but are clearly visible within or after a month of intoxication or withdrawal and are diminished a few weeks after the intake is stopped.
For patients with underlying preexisting bipolar disorder, substance abuse can trigger the mood symptoms even though they were never visible before. Bipolar symptoms are more heightened during intoxication or withdrawal. A strong family background with mood disorders and patient history of at least one minor episode of mania or depression can make the diagnosis of a primary mood disorder.
Individuals with the dual diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and drug and alcohol abuse often face difficulty in various areas of their life.
They face social, occupational and personal issues and because of their disease their relationships, with family and friends, are also gravely jeopardized. Behavioral problems of such patients can also cause trouble with schools, universities and authority figures. They are more prone to risky behavior and have multiple hospital admissions due to chemical dependency and psychiatric symptoms such as being suicidal.