Co-Occurring Disorders: Helping a Loved One Who Has Bipolar Disorder

The world of mental health disorders can create a tangled web of emotions and actions that are indescribable, especially so for those who suffer from bipolar disorder. When this disorder is combined with substance abuse, it can be considered to be a co-occurring disorder. If you feel like your loved one struggles with bipolar disorder and drug abuse, here is what you need to know and which steps you need to take next.

What Exactly is Bipolar Disorder?

There are three main types of bipolar disorder which can be addressed in mental health treatment: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymic. Bipolar I disorder is when one suffers from manic episodes which can last a week long, usually requiring that the patient seek hospitalized care. Depressive episodes can follow, lasting around two weeks, which puts the patient ina vicious rhythm.

Bipolar II sends the patient in and out of uncontrollable waves of depressive and hypomanic episodes. However, these episodes are never full-blown manic episodes like those who have Bipolar I. With Cyclothymic disorder, patients go through long periods of mild depression and brief waves of elation but don’t necessarily require the aid of medication or treatment from a professional.

What if One Suffers from Bipolar Disorder and Drug Abuse?

Like most mental health disorders, bipolar disorder can be treated but not cured. Those who suffer from this complication can turn to “self-medication” so that they can avoid the spells of depression, though this is not necessarily a conscious decision. As deep depression can typically lead to self-abuse and suicide, drug abuse can only encourage this self-destructive behavior.

It can be extremely challenging to watch a love one struggle with these ever-changing emotions in addition to falling victim to drug abuse. With the highest highs come the lowest lows, and it can be impossible to help your loved one, especially when they are also addicted to a substance. You will have trouble understanding their actions or why they are upset, so the best thing you can do is to seek professional help for them.

How Can Treatment Help?

When bipolar disorder and drug abuse meet, this is considered to be a co-occurring disorder, which can be difficult to treat. Mental health treatment and drug rehab must occur separately in order to effectively help the patient overcome their struggles. Unfortunately, there are not many facilities in the nation that can effectively provide this form of total treatment.

However, with varying forms of addiction treatment and psychological therapy, your loved one can receive the attention they need for their co-occurring disorder. If the patient does not seek the proper treatment, they will see the ugly consequences of drug abuse, and their waves of uncontrollable emotions will be that much more difficult to navigate.

Do you fear that your loved one struggles with bipolar disorder and drug abuse? Here at South Coast Counseling, we are staffed with professional counselors who are able to help patients overcome co-occurring disorders. To learn more about our treatment programs, contact us today.