While many people struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is entirely possible that there are other mental and physical factors that could play a part. Addiction is commonly associated with underlying mental health problems, especially since mental illness symptoms can worsen with the presence of drugs. At Banyan’s Chicago Addiction Treatment Center, our dual diagnosis programs offer bipolar disorder and addiction treatment that can assist in managing your chemical dependency and imbalances.  

What Is Bipolar Disorder?  

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health disorder formerly known as manic depression or manic-depressive illness. It is characterized by intense and sudden changes in mood and energy levels. It may also be accompanied by erratic and irrational behaviors. The phase of high energy is known as mania or hypomania, and the low mood is known as depression.  

Secondary symptoms of bipolar disorder may include irritability, trouble at work, problems focusing, rapid speech, sleep problems, social withdrawal, and substance abuse. Usually, treatment involving an excellent mental health program and experienced professionals is necessary to learn coping skills and see improvement. 

Types of Bipolar Disorder 

There are mood episodes: manic, hypomanic, major depressive, and mixed. These episodes weigh in on different levels depending on the type of bipolar disorder. For example, one may feel extremely happy or energized but experience major depression later. Each mood lasts a different duration of time. 

Bipolar disorder is a greater term used to classify a few different types of the disorder, including: 

  • Bipolar I 
  • Bipolar II 
  • Cyclothymic disorder or cyclothymia 
  • Unspecified bipolar disorder 

The various bipolar disorders come with different symptoms, so creating a specific bipolar disorder treatment plan is the best approach for long-term success. For instance, Bipolar II is characterized by having hypomanic and depressive episodes. Cyclothymic disorder is known to be a milder but chronic form of bipolar. Unlike the first two disorders, manic episodes are not likely, and the change of mood is not as extreme. It is vital to have a professional diagnosis and establish a course of treatment for bipolar disorder and substance abuse treatment, depending on the disorder. 

Are People with Bipolar Disorder More Prone to Addiction?

Bipolar disorder patients may be more susceptible to addiction than the general population. This vulnerability is the result of several interrelated factors. First off, manic or hypomanic episodes in people with bipolar disorder might lead them to act impulsively and riskily, such as abusing drugs. People may use drugs or alcohol during manic episodes to keep their moods up or to get through the inevitable slump that follows. Second, people with bipolar disorder usually suffer intense emotional fluctuations, which could lead them to try to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, beginning a dangerous cycle of substance use and dependence may make the issues already brought on by the condition worse.

The risk of addiction may also be increased if bipolar disorder coexists with other mental health problems, including anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. These comorbidities can exacerbate the emotional upheaval and pain that people endure, leading them to turn to narcotics as a temporary solace. Furthermore, the neurochemical imbalance that underlies bipolar disorder may interact with the brain's reward system, potentially making people more vulnerable to the addictive substances' reinforcing effects. The complex interplay of psychological, biological, and environmental factors can considerably increase the risk for substance abuse in this population, even though not everyone with bipolar disorder will become addicted.

The Connection Between Bipolar Disorder and Addiction 

Bipolar disorder is said to affect six million people in the United States, and of those six million, it is estimated that over 56% also suffer from an addiction disorder of some kind.1 When an individual suffers from both bipolar disorder and addiction simultaneously, this is known as a dual diagnosis. In most cases, people abuse these substances to self-medicate. Instead of finding successful dual-diagnosis treatment centers and professional help, they turn to alcohol or drugs as a form of comfort. 

There can even be instances when substance-induced bipolar disorder can be the result of ongoing addiction. It is well known that frequent drug abuse can cause physical changes in the brain. This is particularly seen in the reward system, which indicates how we feel pleasure. This can be required, which could have a direct effect on parts of the brain that affect our behaviors and mood. This means that even people who have had no past mental health disorders can develop a bipolar diagnosis because of an addiction. 

When self-medication starts to spiral out of control into an addiction, bipolar and substance abuse treatment becomes necessary. Addiction will interfere with all aspects of a person’s life, including personal relationships, family life, work, mental well-being, and physical health. The only way to keep these problems from getting out of hand is through proper bipolar and addiction treatment that will help minimize the risk of relapse going forward. 

What Drugs Can Trigger Bipolar Disorder?

While it's crucial to remember that drug use does not, in and of itself, cause bipolar disorder, certain substances have been linked to initiating or escalating the disease's symptoms in those who are already genetically predisposed to the condition. Stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine belong to this category. These chemicals have an effect on dopamine levels in the brain, which can result in heightened alertness, euphoria, and enhanced energy. As a result, they can cause manic or hypomanic episodes in sensitive people. Similar to this, hallucinogens like LSD and some synthetic cannabinoids have been connected to the onset of manic or psychotic symptoms, particularly in people who are predisposed to bipolar disorder.

Additionally, drugs like alcohol and narcotics might make the progression of bipolar disease more difficult. Alcohol, which slows down the central nervous system, might exacerbate depressive episodes and lessen the impact of mood-stabilizing drugs. It may also serve as a catalyst for impulsive behavior when a manic phase is present. Opioids, however, particularly when used excessively or for a long period of time, might cause mood instability.

The neurochemistry of the brain can be altered by these medications, potentially aggravating the mood fluctuations and cognitive dysfunction that are hallmarks of a bipolar diagnosis. Overall, it's important to realize that while these drugs may have an impact on how bipolar disorder develops in certain people, they do not directly cause the illness; rather, they play a role in how it manifests in those who are genetically predisposed to it.

How Diagnosing Co-Occurring Disorders Can Affect the Treatment Process  

For many people who struggle with addiction, it can be incredibly frustrating to avoid relapse. This sensation is heightened when the presence of an undiagnosed mental illness plays a part as well. That is not to say this is always the case, but having a well-rounded understanding of the physical and mental workings of an addicted individual can provide a whole new advantage to those battling it. 

When a mental illness is detected early, integrated treatment for a dual diagnosis can greatly improve the patient’s overall outcome. Some of the ways it helps include:  

  • Minimizing substance use 
  • Improvement in quality of life 
  • Fewer future hospitalizations and arrests 
  • Fewer drug interactions 
  • Enhancement in psychiatric well-being and function 
  • Greater housing stability 

The cyclical nature of addiction can be amplified by the part our mental health plays. A proper diagnosis has the potential to change the life of the person suffering from it. It is a fact that we believe should be fully considered starting when treatment is mapped out and administered, and it can even influence the way that aftercare is structured to maintain sobriety. The longer we pretend that everything is okay when it isn’t, the more of a disservice we are doing to ourselves.  

Help at Our Chicago Rehab for a Dual Diagnosis 

As an Illinois addiction treatment center, we believe in creating personalized treatment plans for our patients that take into account all of their physical, mental, and personal needs. To begin, all patients will undergo a comprehension assessment that pinpoints their issues. In the case of those who require both bipolar disorder and addiction treatment, our experienced staff will develop a plan that works to help the patient overcome their substance abuse as well as manage their bipolar symptoms. 

Bipolar and substance abuse treatment will include a variety of intense therapy sessions and programming options. Programming like relapse prevention education, cognitive behavioral therapy, and biofeedback can dive deeper into these issues and prepare patients for life outside of treatment. Patients will learn healthier ways of coping outside of drugs or alcohol with the guidance of our experienced staff. They will also have the chance to join a community of individuals who value the importance of sobriety, personal growth, and support in their recovery. 

If you or a loved one is struggling, our Chicago drug rehab can help. Take the first step by contacting Banyan Treatment Centers today! 



American Journal of Managed Care – Bipolar Disorder" Costs and Comorbidity 


Most Insurance Plans Accepted

At Banyan Chicago our goal is to make sure that anyone who needs treatment from drug and alcohol addiction are able to get the help needed to assist them on the road to recovery. If you don't have insurance contact us to inquire about alternate methods regarding treatment for yourself or a loved one.

  • aetna
  • beacon
  • cigna
  • magellan
  • multi plan
  • trpn logo
  • humana
  • Compsych logo
  • MedCost
  • Tricare
  • First Health Logo