Everything You Should Know about Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder - Addiction Answers

Everything You Should Know about Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder

If you believe that someone you love is suffering from an addiction and a mental health disorder, you’re far from alone.

Believe it or not, 9.5 million adults in the US suffer from a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder at the same time.

This is a dangerous position for anybody to be in, and it requires some serious action to be taken to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

Let’s talk about substance abuse and bipolar disorder, what they are, and what you can do about them.

Signs Of Substance Abuse And Bipolar Disorder

If somebody has bipolar disorder, they may know it, and they may not. If they’ve received a diagnosis and are being treated for it, that’s a step in the right direction. If not, that complicates things even more.

People suffering from all different types of mental illness are already more likely to fall victim to substance abuse, and bipolar disorder is no exception. While conditions vary from person to person, there are some signs to watch out for.

Symptoms And Warning Signs

These signs can look different depending on the person or the substance. This could be abusing the medication they were prescribed to treat their disorder, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or any other substance.

If somebody is abusing their pills, monitor the amount that they are taking and see if it is going too far past the prescribed rate.

For alcohol, this is usually more visible, as it’s the most commonly abused legal drug and a cultural norm, so many people don’t feel the need to hide it like they would with other substances. There are specific signs to look for when it comes to alcohol addiction that can help you figure out if they need treatment.

For street drugs like heroin, this will almost certainly be hidden. Lying about whereabouts, constantly running out of money, complaining about being sick or tired a lot, different complexion, and more can tell you if there is something going on. This will be the hardest to determine, so be careful bringing it up if you think you need to.

Dual Diagnosis

If they already have a diagnosis for bipolar disorder, keep this in mind. They will require a medical diagnosis for this, so don’t jump to conclusions.

However, if they have bipolar disorder, or any other mental health disorder like depression, PTSD, or anxiety, and it coincides with a substance abuse disorder, this will require a dual diagnosis, along with specific treatment for their conditions.

Dual diagnosis puts patients at serious risk to themselves and those around them. Both mental health disorders and substance disorders will cloud their judgments, and the combination of the two is dangerous.

What To Do

There are some very important steps to take if you believe a loved one has bipolar disorder and substance abuse disorder, and you have to be careful. Treatment is necessary, but there are some important steps to take when you go about it.


If it is a loved one you are concerned about, and you’re reasonably certain they are abusing substances along with their bipolar disorder, this is a very dangerous situation that needs to be addressed immediately.

Co-occurring disorders are not always visible on the surface, but they can have devastating, even deadly effects.

If you’re concerned for your loved one, the time to intervene is now, but it has to be done correctly. Interventions are one of the hardest moments that the host and the recipient will have to go through, and you only get one chance.

Do not berate your loved one, do not condescend, yell or raise your voice. Be as compassionate as you possibly can, but with a serious tone to let them know how this is affecting you and those around them.

Be loving, show support, show that you care, and offer help. Learn how to host an intervention before jumping into it.

Attend Rehabilitation For Dual Diagnosis

There are rehab programs that don’t only treat substance abuse disorders, even though that’s what they are known for. Many facilities offer dual diagnosis programs for people with co-occurring disorders like bipolar and substance abuse disorders.

These treatment programs work to treat both disorders simultaneously and help patients establish healthy habits for dealing with both of them over time. Look into all the types of treatments a facility can offer and see if they can help.

Maintain Support

If you’re offering a helping hand to a loved one during a tough time, they’re going to need you. Do what you can to help them get the treatment they need and keep up the support once they’re back on track.

Maintaining abstinence from a substance after treatment is difficult enough for recovering patients, but adding mental health treatment can make it even more complicated, so they need all the support they can get.

Aftercare, support after the rehab program, is critical to maintaining abstinence. Make sure they are attending any meetings, therapy sessions, or doctor visits after they are out of their program, and offer a helping hand when you can!

Get Help Today

Having both substance abuse and bipolar disorder is not an easy situation to get out of, but there are ways of doing it. There is treatment available for this combination, and it’s crucial that you get it.

Don’t put it off, either. The longer you wait, the more dangerous it is. Get the help you need today, and learn about the different levels of care for people in this position!

Get Help Today

Don’t go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you’re facing. Get in touch with one today.