Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment

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Many people who are suffering from an addiction will also have some kind of mental health condition that they are trying to mask up at the same time. One such mental health condition is bipolar disorder. While this disorder has gone by different names over the years, including manic depression, it is able to cause huge mood swings that have intense highs and lows that are hard to predict or prepare for.

Although there needs to be more research into this disorder, it seems like those who suffer from bipolar disorder are going to be more likely to abuse different substances as a way to self-medicate from some of the emotional issues they feel. Drugs and alcohol can seem to provide some relief, but they simply make the symptoms worse.

There are many issues that can come up for a patient who is dealing with bipolar disorder and addiction at the same time. Finding a good treatment center that is able to handle both of these conditions at the same time will lead to the best success overall for the patient. Take some time to research all of the different options and see which one will help you the most.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition that is not well understood by most people. It does include some radical shifts in the mood of the sufferer and the episodes have the potential to last for weeks or days at a time. It is also possible for the episodes to occur several times a week, or they may only happen a few times during the year. There is not a lot of rhyme or reason behind the disorder, so it is important to find the right treatment to get a handle on it.

An imbalance in the chemicals of the brain and genetics are able to cause issues with bipolar disorder. A traumatic environment is also going to increase the likelihood that the patient is going to develop this disorder. Because of the issues with moods, concentration, and energy, it is possible that this disorder will affect the patient enough that they have trouble in their relationships, financial troubles, and more.

There are four main types of episodes that a person with bipolar disorder will experience. The one that they have will vary based on the reasons for the condition as well. Some of these include:

  1. Manic episodes: During one of the manic episodes, someone who has this disorder may be excessive with their moods, either hostile or cheerful. These episodes are going to last for a week, sometimes more, and if they get severe enough, the patient will need to go to the hospital.
  2. Hypomanic episodes: This one is similar to the manic episode, but there are a few differences. The main one is that these are going to be a little shorter, though they will still last a minimum of 4 days. They tend to be less severe than some of the manic episodes as well.
  3. Major depressive episodes: These are going to be the episodes that are going to leave the patient being depressed and down, often not interested in doing any activities. A person who is in these moods will have them last a minimum of two weeks without any kind of break.
  4. Mixed episodes: It is possible for the person who has this disorder to have mixed episodes. These can include some of the traits of the other three options in order to mix them together into a mess that is hard for them to control.

It is pretty common for those who have this disorder to try and self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs to try and make themselves feel better. This is more common for those who have bipolar disorder, but who have not been diagnosed. They know that they feel horrible and would like to improve how they feel, but they do not know the right way to do this.

The substance seems to be the best way to help with the symptoms. But they actually will make the situation so much worse than before. The most obvious place where this is going to happen is in the brain reward system, which is going to help that substance feel more pleasurable when they use it. Changes in this reward system is going to lead to compulsion and the patient will get addicted.

Drugs and alcohol are going to rewire other parts of the brain, the ones that affect the mood and behavior. This becomes an issue with drug addiction and can cause changes in the brain that will sometimes lead to bipolar disorder. This means that it is possible for either disorder to happen first. Sometimes bipolar disorder will be first and the patient will self-medicate with the substance. Other times, the patient may be on the alcohol or the substance first and then that changes the brain chemicals so they develop bipolar disorder instead.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment

When addiction and bipolar disorder show up together, no matter which one came first, the patient will need to find a treatment option that will help them handle both conditions at the same time. Medical professionals can utilize a variety of tools to help their patients get the treatment that will help them the most. From either an outpatient or inpatient facility, the patient can utilize detoxing, medications, and even therapy to get treatment. The treatment center will need to provide dual diagnosis, so that they can handle both of the disorders at the same time. Only focusing on one can be dangerous and leaves out some of the important factors of both.

What Medications Work the Best?

For most patients who enter a treatment center for addiction and bipolar disorder, medication is going to be necessary. These medications are going to be useful during treatment because they will stifle some of the cravings and can make the withdrawal a little bit easier, without all of the manic highs and lows.

Medications that treat bipolar disorder will be used. These medications are known to calm some of the shifts in the mood of the patient and can make them feel more stable. This will make it easier for them to understand the therapy and learn better coping methods rather than relying on the substance again.

There are several types of medications that they are able to provide to the patient for a bipolar disorder includes benzodiazepines, lithium, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants. Each of these is going to help the patient during their depressive or manic episodes. Doctors need to be careful with the medications that they provide to the patients because some can also be addictive and there are worries that the patient will just change the addiction. Finding a good balance between giving the patient the help they need and not overdoing it can help.

Therapy Options for Both Disorders

It is common for the treatment center to provide the patient with some kind of therapy to help them deal with the issues of bipolar and the addiction. Through this therapy, the patient will learn how to manage the bipolar disorder and how to use healthy coping skills that will not rely on the substance any longer.

The medical professional will be able to go through which therapy method will be one of the best to help. One of the techniques that tends to work well for both of these conditions is cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy option is going to help people who have the bipolar disorder and an addiction. CBT is great because it will focus mostly on the feelings and thoughts that people who suffer from both of these conditions will have.

Through this technique, the patient will work with the therapist to examine some of the feelings and thoughts they have that lead to manic and depressive behaviors. This helps them to understand more about their actions and can get them prepared to handle future episodes and cravings. Through all of this, they will be able to manage their behavior better.

What Will Happen at the Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment Center?

Each of the treatment centers that you will use for dual diagnosis can be different. You will need to do some of the research to figure out which one is the best for you. One thing to consider is whether you would like to use an inpatient or an outpatient facility. The outpatient facility will usually take long, but it allows the patient to go to school and work and be at home at night. The inpatient facility is going to be the best for those who need to get away from the negative influences that cause the addiction and the manic episodes and someone who would need to have constant supervision.

The length of time will matter as well. You will need to decide how long you would like to be in the facility. Those who are just starting with the addiction and just need a good start with handling both disorders may find that a 30-day treatment option. Those who are really struggling or have had trouble with their treatment before may find that a 60-day or a 90-day one may be the right option for them.

Inside the Treatment Facility

Once you have chosen the right treatment for bipolar disorder and addiction, you will need to go to the facility. While there, you will need to go through the admittance process. This is the time for the patient to get used to the facility and talk with a medical professional who will work to understand the patient and what is going on. The patient will need to sign papers and get things in order. The medical professional will work with the patient at that time to figure out the best treatment plan that will work for the patient.

Once the patient is ready, they will often go through a detox. Many patients will still have the substance in their system and they need to withdraw from it before any of the other treatment methods are going to work. Having the detox in the treatment center is one of the best options. It allows the patient to have medical professionals watching over them in case something goes wrong. Dealing with withdrawal is not easy and some patients, especially those with bipolar disorder, may find them dangerous.

Within a few days, the patient will be done with the detox and they can get started with the process of getting better and receiving their treatment. This is going to usually include therapy and some medications. The medical professionals will decide which medications are the best for the patient and will actually help them deal with the bipolar symptoms. For many patients, this will provide them with some of the stability that they need to handle the treatment and feel better in the process.

Therapy will happen in all of the treatment facilities. There are different options available. The patient will need to work on an individual basis with the therapist to learn the right coping methods that will make them successful and can help them live a normal life without the substance. They will also go through group therapy to meet others in the same situations and can provide valuable insights to others who are getting treatment as well. This can create a good support group for the patient to help them later in life.

Recovery is a lifelong process, not something that is done the second the patient is done with the treatment center. This is why the bipolar disorder and addiction treatment will include an aftercare plan that will help the patient as well. This plan is going to help them with the proper medication, therapy, and support groups to aid in recovery, even after they are done in the facility. This can provide them with a way to stay sober, without having to fall back into the drugs, even when things are not going that well.