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Link Between Meth and Bipolar Disorder

The Link Between Meth and Bipolar

Addiction and mental illness are often associated with one another.

It’s not uncommon for addicts to have suffered from a mental disorder prior to substance abuse or as a result of it. Many connections have been made between certain types of substance abuse disorders and mental illness, but the link between bipolar disorder and the use of meth is one that has been heavily researched. Methamphetamine is a nasty drug that is known for its damage to a person’s outward appearance, but what about the damage it can do to the mind?

The relationship between meth addiction and bipolar disorder can help inform the type of treatment necessary for individuals who suffer from both. As more research is conducted regarding this topic, the team at our drug rehab center in Delaware wanted to take a closer look at the link between meth and bipolar disorder themselves.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes swift changes in thoughts, mood, emotions, energy, concentration, and ability to complete everyday tasks. In most cases, it is diagnosed during the teenage years or early adulthood. Pregnant women may also show symptoms prior to or following childbirth.

There are three types of bipolar disorders:1

Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I Disorder is characterized by manic episodes that last up to 7 days or even manic symptoms severe enough to require medical attention – symptoms such as increased energy or agitation, euphoria, racing thoughts, or poor decision-making, among many others. Depression will often precede or follow manic episodes and may sometimes even occur at the same time.

Bipolar II Disorder

Though the manic symptoms typical of Bipolar II Disorder are less severe, the diagnosis isn’t necessarily a milder version of Bipolar I. Rather than a full-blown manic episode, those who suffer from Bipolar II Disorder will cycle through hypomanic episodes (euphoria) as well as longer periods of depression

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder, also known as cyclothymia, is defined by mood swings, though the hypomanic and mild depressive cycles are not as extreme as those of Bipolar I and Bipolar II. A diagnosis is given if symptoms persist for a minimum of 2 years. If left untreated, there’s a chance a cyclothymic disorder could develop into a bipolar disorder later in life, but it’s not common.

The professionals in our residential treatment program at Banyan Delaware have seen the role that mental health plays in an individual’s overall wellbeing. Individuals with drug or alcohol addictions are especially vulnerable to the symptoms of mental illness and often require specialized treatment in order to recover and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

How Are Meth Use and Bipolar Disorder Connected?

Methamphetamine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that attacks the central nervous system and causes a variety of symptoms including psychosis (like paranoia), hallucinations, and continuous motor activity. Long-term meth abuse can eventually change the chemical makeup of the brain, causing cognitive and behavioral problems. As the concern about meth abuse grew, the link between meth and bipolar disorder surfaced. But can methamphetamine cause bipolar disorder? While research hasn’t yet identified meth as a direct cause of bipolar disorder, it has been found to worsen bipolar disorder symptoms and cause manic episodes.

A 2019 study reported that manic switch phenomena, or a rapid shift in moods, is related to sudden increases in levels of monoamines such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Methamphetamine can elevate monoamine levels, causing manic switch phenomena.2 Meth also affects different areas of the brain like the hippocampus, striatum, parietal cortex, cerebellum, and the frontal and prefrontal cortexes. It’s no surprise that long-term meth addiction can lead to a mental illness such as bipolar disorder.

The brain is a delicate thing, and drugs like methamphetamine are known for causing significant damage to such a vital part of the human body. While many don’t plan on becoming addicted when they begin abusing drugs or alcohol, dependency can develop before you know it. At Banyan Treatment Centers Delaware, we offer a medically monitored detox to help individuals with substance abuse disorders safely wean off of their addiction. Detoxification allows patients to begin their treatment programs with a clean slate.

If you or a loved one are battling a drug or alcohol dependency, help is just a phone call away. Call us today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our rehab facility in Delaware.


  1. NIH – Bipolar Disorder
  2. NCBI – A case of methamphetamine use disorder presenting a condition of ultra-rapid cycler bipolar disorder
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.