Bipolar disorder is a common mental health condition that affects over 4% of the U.S. population and leads many of those affected to seek help from bipolar treatment centers. Yet some people who need bipolar disorders treatment try to self-medicate through alcohol, illegal substances or prescription drugs that are not helpful for bipolar disorder. This can lead to many serious issues, including addiction.

What Is Self-Medication?

People who carry pain from childhood or who are experiencing mental illness symptoms may try to feel better (or feel less) by drinking to excess or abusing drugs rather than seeking medical or psychiatric care. They may not know they’re self-medicating; they just know that they feel better when they drink or use.

What Is the Self-Medication Hypothesis?

Research has shown that people with substance use disorders often have co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders and bipolar disorder. People with these issues may abuse substances because they find that certain drugs relieve their emotional pain. Instead of seeking bipolar disorders treatment, they may use drugs in an attempt to quell or regulate their emotions. In some cases they use drugs for their temporary effect of elevating self-esteem, making relationship issues less painful or even because they believe this is a method of self-care. Unfortunately, more often, it leads to addiction and other problems.

Can Bipolar Disorder Be Caused by Drug Use?

Mental health professionals and addiction specialists believe that mental health problems were more likely there before the drug use and, in fact, precipitated the drug use. Epidemiological and clinical data show that depression is strongly correlated with self-medicating with drugs. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, self-medicating drug use can also bring on an episode of depression or mania related to bipolar disorder.

Can Drinking Make You Bipolar?

Heavy drinking may bring on symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as strong mood episodes, or psychotic symptoms. This can lead to risk-taking, job endangerment and relationship problems.

It can also lead to criminal behavior if alcohol impacts mood and damages decision-making capabilities.

How Do People Act When They Have Bipolar Disorder?

The symptoms of bipolar disorder include dramatic shifts in mood as well as significant changes in energy, activities and ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Although everyone experiences normal ups and downs in life, people with bipolar experience extremes. They may go through phases of being elated and energetic followed by phases of deep despair and depression.

These manic and depressive episodes can last for weeks or months, although some people cycle through symptoms more quickly. Some individuals are more impacted than others. Recent research shows over 82% of people with bipolar have serious impairments from this condition.

Behavior may include reckless sexual activities, gambling or overspending in a manic phase or isolation, lack of communication and suicidal thoughts or behavior when in a depressive phase. People with this condition should consider options for bipolar disorders treatment to prevent negative consequences during these episodes.

Why Does Bipolar Disorder Occur?

The exact cause of bipolar disorder cannot be pinpointed but several genetic, neurochemical and environmental factors come into play. It’s believed to be predominantly a neurobiological disorder related to malfunctions in a specific part of the brain. Malfunctioning neurotransmitters (brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline) have also been implicated as causes. Stress is also a major trigger of symptoms.

What Age Group Is Most Affected by Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder does not discriminate. It can impact anyone at any age and can last a lifetime. Although it often starts in a person’s late teens or early adult years, children and older adults can have bipolar disorder too. Many people are not properly diagnosed at the time of onset ― because the condition is difficult to diagnose or the individual did not seek help ― and it can take a while to figure out what is wrong. Sometimes it is not discovered until a person self-medicates and develops an addition that needs treatment.

Bipolar Disorders Treatment

Bipolar disorder is a serious brain disease that requires treatment. Many people try to self-medicate this condition and end up with a co-occurring addictive disorder, making life doubly difficult. With the help of a proper diagnosis and addiction treatment when warranted, people who have become sicker due to self-medicating can begin to heal. There are bipolar treatment centers that offer therapies that can help people can learn to regulate their emotions and enjoy healthier lives.


Choose a better life. Choose recovery.