bi-polar disorder and alcoholism

Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism: Understanding this Common Occurrence

Alcohol abuse, also commonly referred to as alcoholism, is no stranger to most communities. In fact, every year, countless individuals become aware of an alcohol use disorder in their lives or in the lives of someone they love.

It’s always difficult to come to terms with the truth about an addiction problem. And it’s often very challenging to figure out what to do about the issue. It can be even more difficult when alcoholism is paired with another health concern, such as bipolar disorder.

Those who suffer from the co-occurring disorders of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and bipolar disorder often struggle to overcome either or both issues. This is mainly due to the way these disorders affect one another.

In many cases, bipolar disorder and alcoholism combine to create a really big problem in the lives of those affected by these disorders. Sometimes, alcohol use can worsen the effects of bipolar disorder and vice versa.

This is why treatment is so important. If you or someone in your life is struggling with an AUD and bipolar disorder, it’s time to truly understand the seriousness of this occurrence and learn what you can do to help turn things around for the better.

Defining Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism

First of all, it’s important to begin by understanding these two disorders. What exactly does it mean to have bipolar disorder and how does it affect those who are living with it?

Well, bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that causes people to become psychologically unstable. It’s a mood disorder that affects the way people think, feel, and behave. Often, the effects can be very drastic and intense.

Many individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder experience moments of extreme depression in addition to intense states of euphoria. Often, individuals deal with major shifts in emotions and moods. This can cause people to behave and act differently than normal.

Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, is a problem that many people deal with. It is an uncontrollable use of alcohol. Since this substance is legal, it’s fairly easy to access. So, sadly, many people become dependent on alcohol and may eventually abuse is and develop an alcohol addiction problem.

When Alcohol Use and Bipolar Disorders Co-Occur

Perhaps, you’re wondering how or why people end up living with bipolar disorder and alcoholism. Well, the truth of the matter is that these co-occurring disorders affect people as a result of various factors.

In other words, the reason behind this occurrence varies from case to case. But, for many people, bipolar disorder leads to the development of alcohol use disorder. Those who suffer from the effects of bipolar disorder often struggle with deep depression because of their mental health disorder.

Sadly, it’s common for people who feel depressed to seek comfort in substance use. Some may turn to drugs. Maybe they begin using medications and prescriptions that are meant to help them overcome depression. But, after using the substance for a while, they may have grown dependent on and addicted to that drug.

This can also happen in cases where people turn to alcohol in order to cope with the negative effects of bipolar disorder. Some individuals seek comfort in drinking. But, the relief they feel is only temporary and leaves when the effects of alcohol wear off.

In order to escape from the unpleasant impact of bipolar disorder, including depression, uncontrollable thoughts, irritability, agitation, and low self-esteem, many individuals use alcohol. But, again, the stress-relieving effects that people get when they drink wears off after a while.

When reality returns, the desire to escape also comes back. As a result, some people may resort back to alcohol use. This can turn into a problem with excessive drinking. Eventually, these alcohol use habits can become extremely problematic.

Alcohol use disorder is dangerous for more reason than one. This addiction problem affects individuals’ lives on multiple levels. And the effects can be intensified when the alcohol use problem co-occurs with bipolar disorder.

How Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Use Affect People

When a person suffers from bipolar disorder, he or she may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Poor judgment
  • Appetite loss
  • Manic episodes
  • Racing thoughts
  • Euphoric episodes
  • Excessive worry
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Loss of energy
  • Memory problems
  • Lack of concentration
  • Excessive or lack of sleep
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Suicidal ideation and thoughts of death

The intense changes in mood and emotions can cause people to feel very overwhelmed. It’s difficult to understand and work through the effects of bipolar disorder. So, it goes without saying that people who suffer from this disorder often struggle to lead regular and normal lives.

Bipolar disorder can impact people’s day-to-day lives. In many cases, people who are suffering from this mental health disorder have trouble focusing in school, keeping up with family responsibilities, establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships, and holding jobs.

All of these things can contribute to the development of alcohol abuse. And, if a person becomes addicted to alcohol, he or she may begin to experience even more difficulties in maintaining a normal schedule.

Alcoholism can cause people to feel:

  • Depressed
  • A lack of energy
  • Less motivated
  • Alone and isolated
  • Distanced from loved ones

No doubt, as these effects combine with the symptoms of bipolar disorder, individuals may struggle to manage their lives and may experience a downward spiral.

Unfortunately, this is has been the case in many people’s lives. But, thankfully, there is hope for those who are dealing with these co-occurring disorders!

Finding Hope and Help at 1st Step Behavioral Health

If you’ve been struggling with alcoholism and bipolar disorder, then you know just how difficult it can be to overcome these problems. Fortunately, though, a professional dual diagnosis treatment program can help you to find freedom and peace once and for all!

Here at 1st Step Behavioral Health, we work to help people to find the freedom they truly deserve. You don’t need to continue struggling with alcohol abuse and the effects of bipolar disorder. Let us help you! Just call us today to get started on the journey to recovery.

best dual diagnosis treatment centers

What The Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Have In Common

Because of the high overlapping rates of occurrence between mental health disorders and addiction, dual diagnosis is an important aspect of recovery. While all facilities differ somewhat, the best dual diagnosis treatment centers all have some key things in common. If you or someone you know is suffering from co-occurring disorders, it’s time to find a top dual diagnosis treatment center that can help!

The Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Focus on Individual Behavioral Therapies

people holding hands at the best dual diagnosis treatment centers

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there are 7.9 million Americans that have both a mental health illness and a substance abuse disorder. These individuals require dual diagnosis treatment, and the basis of that treatment should be evidence-based behavioral therapy.

There are two primary forms of individual behavioral therapy used in the best dual diagnosis treatment centers: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy brings attention to negative thought patterns and helps individuals replace those patterns with positive, healthy cognitive processes. Dialectical behavioral therapy aims to improve self-esteem and lessen strong and overwhelming emotions that lead to harmful behavior.

Effectively Treating Co-Occuring Disorders

In many cases, people who are suffering from the effects of substance use disorders and mental health disorders become overwhelmed by the impact these challenges have on their lives. Sometimes, people who are dealing with these co-occurring disorders may seek professional treatment for one of the problems without realizing that the other disorder also needs attention. In other cases, professional treatment centers may overlook the fact that their patients are struggling with co-occurring disorders, focusing treatment on only the addiction.

It can be dangerous to treat only one disorder when a person is dealing with multiple challenges. For some people, one disorder is actually one of the contributing factors of another disorder in their lives. For example, many people who suffer from alcoholism also begin to suffer from clinical depression. Some individuals struggle with drug addictions and, as a result, develop a mental health disorder. 

So, treatment should focus on helping the whole individual. It should be dedicated to helping people to overcome addiction as well as the harmful effects of their co-occurring disorder. If individuals don’t have personalized treatment that is centered around their emotional, physical, emotional, and mental health, it’s possible that they will eventually experience addiction relapse. 

This happens due to the fact that, when treatment programs do not address the contributing factors of addiction, individuals may not learn how to work through those factors in a healthy way. As a result, they may resort back to their previous coping method — substance use. Thankfully, dual diagnosis treatment programs can help to treat addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders. With the help of medical professionals who understand how to treat individuals who are suffering from substance abuse and other disorders, people can gain the freedom and peace they need.

Not all addiction centers have psychiatrists or even professionals who have been trained in psychiatry on their staff. But, top-ranking dual diagnosis treatment centers place a lot of emphasis on hiring trained individuals. These medical professionals are able to conduct individual therapy sessions, lead group counseling sessions and identify any co-occurring mental health disorders that need to be addressed during recovery.

Dual Diagnosis: A Long-Term Care Option

Addiction treatment programs come in all shapes and sizes; some are lengthier while others are very short in duration. Dual diagnosis programs, however, tend to be more successful if they are long-term. Centers that focus on dual diagnosis understand that there is no quick fix when it comes to treating both substance abuse and mental illness. Longer programs often have higher rates of success, translating to better health and happiness for patients.

How Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Work

When a person who has co-occurring disorders begins the treatment at a top-performing dual diagnosis treatment center will first receive an assessment. This allows the professional staff at the facility to become informed about the individual’s challenges and needs throughout the recovery process. It also allows patients to be more aware of what they may not have known about their addiction and mental illness. 

After the assessment, individuals can begin treatment by going through a detoxification process. Detoxification, usually called “detox”, is a medically-assisted process that helps individuals to safely end drug and alcohol use. During this period, patients may experience withdrawal symptoms that would otherwise be very difficult to manage. Thankfully, those in treatment can rest assured, knowing that they have access to medical help whenever it’s needed. 

Next, individuals take part in a treatment program such as inpatient (residential) treatment, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), intensive outpatient program (IOP), or outpatient program. In many cases, individuals go through each of these levels of care as they recover from substance abuse and learn to work through the symptoms of their mental illness or other co-occurring disorders.

Group and Family Therapy Options

The very best treatment centers offering dual diagnosis programs provide a range of therapy options for patients. Notably, they offer therapies that showcase a support system.

Group therapy can be a wonderful way to share experiences. It also allows patients to learn from one another while honing their social skills. Family therapy is another helpful tool that can accomplish all of the following objectives:

  • Differentiating between enabling and helping
  • Utilizing the existing support system of family
  • Rebuilding connections and relationships between family members
  • Educating family members about mental illness and the illness of addiction

Aftercare Options for Relapse Prevention

A vital component of effective dual diagnosis treatment is the acknowledgment that the work isn’t over when rehab ends. To successfully prevent relapse, patients and treatment centers need to work together to create aftercare plans.

Aftercare could include regular meetings in an outpatient program to maintain sobriety for months or even years to come, or life skills training so that patients can learn vital skills on their own. Aftercare might also include learning about available group meetings that can offer accountability for the future.

Finding the best dual diagnosis treatment centers don’t have to be challenging if you know where to look. Start the search at 1st Step Behavioral Health in South Florida. Call (866) 319-6126 and let us prepare you for your journey to recovery.

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