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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder & Substance Use Disorder

Bipolar disorder and substance use disorder are two distinct mental health conditions that often coexist, leading to severe impairment and poor treatment outcomes. Understanding the relationship between these two disorders is crucial for effective diagnosis, treatment, and support.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a crippling mental health condition characterized by dramatic fluctuations in mood, energy, and activity levels. It manifests through manic episodes, characterized by euphoria and abnormally elevated levels of energy and activity, and depressive episodes, characterized by persistent sadness, low mood, lack of motivation, and changes in appetite, among other symptoms.

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a mental health condition in which an individual engages in the chronic and compulsive use of alcohol and drugs despite apparent negative consequences. It can result in health complications, failed relationships, job loss, financial trouble, and even legal problems.

The Prevalence Of Comorbid Bipolar & Substance Use Disorder

Surveys have consistently shown a strong association between bipolar disorder and substance use disorder, with studies indicating that individuals with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop substance misuse problems than the general population.

According to a systematic review published by the National Library of Medicine, up to 40% of people with bipolar disorder also meet the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder. There are several possible explanations for this high rate of comorbidity as outlined below:

Self-Medication and Escapism: One possible explanation for the high comorbidity between bipolar and substance use disorders is the concept of self-medication. Individuals with bipolar disorder may turn to substance use as a way of numbing or coping with the overwhelming symptoms. While this may provide some sort of reprieve, it can worsen the condition and lead to alcohol or substance dependence in the long run.

Shared Biological and Environmental Factors: The high comorbidity of bipolar and substance use disorders may also be due to shared biological and environmental risk factors. These include genetic influences, neurochemical imbalance, altered brain functioning, and exposure to stressful or traumatic experiences.

Impact Of Comorbidity On Treatment & Prognosis

The presence of substance use disorder can significantly interfere with the treatment outcomes. Substance abuse can interfere with the effectiveness of mood-stabilizing medications, disrupt medication adherence, exacerbate mood symptoms, and increase the risk of relapse. This can, in turn, fuel the need to self-medicate using alcohol and drugs, creating a vicious cycle where both disorders feed off each other.

Treating Comorbid Bipolar & Substance Use Disorder

Given the complex nature of comorbid bipolar and substance use disorder, effective treatment calls for an integrative treatment approach that addresses both disorders simultaneously. This typically includes a combination of psychiatric medications, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications.

Final Thoughts

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with co-occurring bipolar disorder and substance use disorder, seeking appropriate treatment is crucial. With the right treatment approach, you can effectively manage the symptoms and lead a healthy and productive life.

However, these conventional treatments may not always work for everyone. That is where ketamine therapy comes into the picture. Ketamine therapy is an evidence-based treatment that has proven highly effective in managing symptoms of a wide range of treatment-resistant psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and substance use disorders.

At avIVa Infusions, we offer personalized ketamine treatments to help individuals who have tried various conventional treatment options without success find the relief they need. Contact us today to learn more about our ketamine therapy services and how we can help you manage your symptoms.