Many people with substance use disorders battle a co-existing mental health disorder, such as bipolar disorder. Once known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. Each of these mood swings is marked by several types of symptoms that can greatly affect the individual’s ability to carry out their day-to-day routine. Although there is no single cause for substance abuse and bipolar disorder co-occurrence, these conditions are highly associated with each other. To help those battling this dual diagnosis, Banyan Treatment Centers offers bipolar disorder and addiction treatment.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder marked by extreme mood swings. When individuals with bipolar disorder experience a depressive mood swing, they may feel sad and hopeless or may lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When their mood shifts to mania or hypomania, they may experience euphoria, energy, and unusual irritability.

These mood swings can impact sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior, and the person’s ability to think clearly, which can make it difficult for the individual to carry out their day-to-day responsibilities. Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year, depending on the severity of the individual’s disorder.

There are also several types of bipolar disorder, including:

  • Bipolar 1
  • Bipolar 2
  • Bipolar with mixed features
  • Bipolar with seasonal pattern
  • Cyclothymia
  • Rapid cycling bipolar
  • Unspecified bipolar

People may also experience emotional symptoms in between episodes. Others may not experience any at all. Although bipolar disorder is a chronic disorder, you can manage your mood swings and other symptoms with professional mental health treatment.

Can Substance Abuse Cause Bipolar Disorder?

While there is no definitive cause and effect, substance abuse can contribute to bipolar disorder in several ways. People with bipolar disorder experience shifts in mood, with episodes lasting for various periods.

These episodes may also vary in intensity, affecting energy and concentration. Both genetics and imbalanced chemicals in the brain can cause bipolar disorder and exposure to trauma. This disorder can have a major impact on an individual's quality of life, including financial and legal troubles, relationship issues, and addiction.

To cope with the mental hardships of this disorder, many people with bipolar disorder take up drug and alcohol abuse, which explains the correlation between bipolar disorder and addiction. In addition to self-medicating with substance use, there’s also substance-induced bipolar disorder.

Frequent drug use causes chemical changes in the brain, the most obvious of which is to the brain’s reward system. This is the region of the brain that greatly contributes to the development of addiction, as drugs activate the release of dopamine. This produces the sensation of euphoria that encourages further drug use.

Drugs and alcohol can also rewire parts of the brain that affect mood and behavior and largely contribute to mental illness. For this reason, the development of mental health problems like bipolar disorder is possible in cases of substance abuse.

Our Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Treating co-occurring disorders involves tackling both disorders at once. It is common for individuals with these disorders to feel misunderstood, stigmatized, or isolated because of their illness. Considering that bipolar disorder and substance use disorder can each have a negative impact on a person’s life – from occupational functioning to the quality of relationships – simultaneously experiencing them can make recovery even more difficult without the right kind of help.

What's more, the official mental health disorder diagnosis of bipolar disorder too often comes years after the individual first experiences symptoms. As a result, many go years exhibiting symptoms without receiving treatment while enduring stigma and scrutiny from others. According to research, most people with bipolar disorder do not receive mental illness treatment until about six years after having their first episode of symptoms.1

Due to this delay in treatment, symptoms may worsen over time, with the individual struggling to understand their cause and how to properly cope. This uncertainty and struggle make substance use more likely as a coping mechanism. Fortunately, our Banyan facilities for mental health offer co-occurring disorder treatment to help individuals with dual diagnoses like bipolar disorder and addiction.

Our dual diagnosis services include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI)
  • Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT)
  • Trauma Therapy
  • & More

In addition to co-occurring disorder programs, Banyan Mental Health also offers individualized treatment for mental illness, such as our bipolar disorder treatment.

Finding a Mental Health Rehab Near Me

If you are searching for mental health treatment in your area, Banyan can help. With multiple mental health and addiction treatment facilities across the nation, one of our teams could be there for you or a loved one in recovery.

For more information about our adult mental health services and how to get started with treatment, contact Banyan Treatment Centers today.


  1. National Library of Medicine - Easing the Burden of Bipolar Disorder: From Urgent Situations to Remission

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