Substance abuse and bipolar disorder are more complicated combined than either condition alone—but treatment is readily available, and recovery is absolutely possible.
Hi. I’m Karl Shallowhorn with the BP magazine bphope.com vlog. I’m going to be talking to you about substance abuse and bipolar disorder. There are a few things to consider when it comes to substance abuse and bipolar disorder. I’m a person in long-term recovery from addiction. I’ve been clean for about 29 years. But before then I did have a problem with my bipolar and chemical use. So, when it came to my substance abuse and bipolar disorder I found that things were made worse when I used substances. So, whether it be things like alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, other illicit drugs, those can all affect a person’s mental health and, of course, it can make matters worse. So, that’s one thing.
“The idea though, when you think about it, what is the root problem? Is it the addiction? Is it the bipolar disorder?”
So, when we go into it more deeply, when we remove the substance we can often times get to what’s going on and what is the actual problem itself and how to address it better by removing the substance. That was the case with me.
Also, take into consideration how substances can often times cause other problems in a person’s life; whether it be work problems, problems with relationships with family and friends, there might be problems, legal consequences. These are all things that can happen to a person as a result of their substance use, not to mention the risky behaviors that are often associated with bipolar disorder. So, we know that risk taking is a definitely a symptom of bipolar disorder, but when you think about it, something that does take effect when you use substances, that kind of risky behavior.
One other thing to think about is the idea of using substances and prescribed medications. That’s another thing that often times you need to take into consideration when you look at how substances, especially things like alcohol or other drugs might affect how these medications work. So, we know that it’s not wise to use these types of things when you take prescribed medications because of what we call the synergistic effect. It’s something that might make your condition more pronounced or cause other side effects you can’t manage.
But there’s a bright note. There are a lot more treatments available now for people with what we call co-occurring disorders for things like bipolar disorder and other substance use disorders. The key is learning how to work with a clinician, how to work with a provider and get to, what I said before, the root problem. By doing so, you can have a lot more success and address the problem at hand.
So, for the BP magazine bphope.com vlog, I’m Karl Shallowhorn. Be well.
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