Individuals with bipolar disorder, a mental health illness also known as manic depression, experience mood swings that include periods of mania, anxiety, severe depression, and sometimes panic attacks. To make matters worse, many people with the disorder have a substance misuse problem - the result of self-medicating with alcohol or drugs.
However, if you use alcohol or drugs to help you feel better, you may suffer more frequent mood swings. While more research is needed on the relationship between mental illness and substance misuse, alcohol, and drug addiction appear to make the prognosis of bipolar disorder worse.
Makes Diagnosis and Treatment More Difficult
Substance misuse can be a sign of bipolar disorder, or it can make a mental health diagnosis more difficult. Heavy alcohol use and drug addiction can also make treatment of bipolar disorder more complicated.
If you use alcohol or drugs, you may experience more frequent or severe episodes of mania and depression. The medications a doctor prescribes to treat your bipolar disorder may also be less effective.
While people with bipolar disorder often drink alcohol in an attempt to find relief, some individuals use methamphetamines, marijuana, or cocaine. Some use opioids for the sedating effect. Regardless of the substance, the problems you can suffer are made worse if you use drugs in combination with alcohol.
Causes Side Effects
Whether you turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, experts suggest that lack of impulse control and poor judgment - common symptoms demonstrated by people with a mood disorder - may predispose you to substance addiction. Consequently, you may rely on alcohol and prescription or recreational drugs to reduce stress and anxiety or induce sleep.
Alcohol misuse can cause insomnia by interfering with neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate sleep. While drinking alcohol in small quantities can cause sleepiness, consuming high quantities of alcohol can cause you to wake frequently throughout the night and reduce the amount of REM sleep you get.
Alcohol is also a diuretic, which can disrupt your sleep since you have to make more trips to the bathroom through the night. Although marijuana and cocaine aren't diuretics, they can also make it difficult to fall asleep or remain sleeping.
Marijuana can make you sleepy, but heavy marijuana use interferes with REM sleep - the lack of which can have negative effects on your physical and mental health. Cocaine use also leads to less REM sleep due to the drug's stimulant effects.
Bipolar disorder itself affects the quality of your sleep. Co-existing alcohol or drug addiction can make your symptoms of bipolar disorder, including sleep problems, even more severe. In addition to the physical problems that the loss of sleep can cause, poor reasoning, impaired judgment, and depression can occur.
Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to heightened anxiety, intensify mood swings, and make concentrating extremely difficult. However, getting treatment for an addiction that co-exists with bipolar disorder can help you recover from the effects that lack of sleep causes.
Substance misuse can complicate treatment for bipolar disorder in multiple ways. If you have a substance misuse problem along with bipolar disorder, you may have more frequent hospitalizations and be hospitalized for longer, as recovery can take more time.
Another problem is that individuals with substance misuse problems are less likely to take the medications that health providers prescribe for their bipolar disorder. Medication noncompliance can affect the success of treatment, hampering your recovery.
Unfortunately, it isn't easy for health care professionals to determine whether the severity of your bipolar symptoms is due to substance misuse or not taking your medications. How long you've had an addiction problem can affect your response to medication therapy as well.
Whether you are seeking an inpatient treatment program or outpatient services for an addiction problem that accompanies a mental health disorder, the staff of professionals at Clearview Recovery Center are here to assist you.