Bi-Polar Questions That Will Bring Out The Information You Need Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

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Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

In a multimedia cyber world, awareness of Bipolar Disorder continues to grow. You can go on the internet and search for “Celebrations with Bipolar Disorder” and some of the names that come up are Britney Spears, Mel Gibson, Ben Stiller, Kurt Cobain, Ozzy Osbourne, Macy Gray, Axl Rose, Virginia Woolf, Linda Hamilton, Sting, Jean-Claude Van Damme and many more. Because celebrities are in the public eye, and always under the intense scrutiny of the media, any unusual behavior is seen and scrutinized.

Many people with Mood Disorders can remember years of manic and depressive behavior. They do not seek help until there is a significant impairment in the function of their daily activities. Before seeking help, some individuals with mood disorders try to cope with their manic depressive mood swings through exercise, hobbies, yoga, art, music or talking with close friends or family. Unfortunately, most individuals choose to self-medicate with alcohol and illegal drugs. 60% of individuals with bipolar disorder will develop a substance abuse disorder at some point in their lifetime.

Bipolar disorder is classified as a mood disorder in which a person cycles between a manic state (hyperactivity, distractibility, reduced need for sleep, grandiose behavior, flight of ideas, racing thoughts, pressured / rapid speech, impulsivity , poor judgment, hypersexuality, spending. hobbies, dangerous behavior and unrealistic optimism) and depressive mood (sadness, crying, decreased sleep, loss of interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies, excessive guilt- an, low energy/motivation, weight gain, feelings of helplessness/hopelessness/worthlessness, restlessness. or irritability, poor concentration and suicidal thoughts or attempts).

The prevalence of Bipolar Disorder in the United States is 1 -2% of the general population. The age of onset is around 19 years of age with most cases appearing between the ages of 15 – 20 years. The incidence between men and women with bipolar disorder was similar with no overall association with a socioeconomic class or ethnic group. Only one third of those with Mood Disorders are formally diagnosed by a doctor and of that third, approximately 25% are actually treated. Untreated Bipolar Disorder has a lifetime risk of completing suicide of 15%.

An individual with a Mood Disorder can look very different when manic or depressed thus making the disorder often undiagnosed. Regarding substance abuse, often an individual can cope with their depression by using cocaine to elevate their mood. When dealing with their depression, a person may take alcohol, benzodiazepines or opiates to lower their mood. The question that needs to be asked is if substance abuse is a result of Bipolar Disorder or if the signs and symptoms of Bipolar Disorder (mood swings of mania and depression) are a result of substance abuse. Such individuals may be bounced back and forth from Psychiatric inpatient hospitals or Drug Rehabilitation Centers. Often times, individuals are denied treatment or are so frustrated with the system that they no longer pursue treatment.

To help better manage this question, Dual diagnosis or Mental Illness and Chemical Addiction (MICA) Units were created. These units recognize “Mental Illness” (Major Depression, Bipolar or Schizophrenia) and “Substance Abuse.” These units are composed of Psychiatrists, Nurses, Psychologists, Therapists, Social Workers and various support staff. Such programs provide medical supervision and a safe detoxification process; individualized treatment plans that address psychiatric illness and substance abuse and a central location that limits disruption and improves continuity of care.

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