When understanding dual diagnosis between alcoholism and bipolar disorder, one must understand how they coexist. Saying that, almost 50% of those suffering with alcoholism are also suffering with a co-existing mental illness. 

When looking at alcoholism, it’s hard not to see the link from it to bipolar disorder. People struggling with both alcoholism and bipolar disorder sadly experience overlapping symptoms from both disorders. The result, both disorders feed off each other and only worsen each other’s symptoms.

If you have been previously diagnosed with a kind of bipolar disorder, you need to know how alcohol abuse can typically affect the current symptoms you’re experiencing from bipolar disorder. As well as how treatment for both should be handled, AKA dual diagnosis treatment.

On the alcoholism side of the dual diagnosis, if you’re suffering from it already, the likelihood of developing symptoms of a bipolar disorder as well are high. Luckily, the options for dual diagnosis and rehab programs are known to effectively treat both bipolar disorder and alcoholism hand in hand.

At New Roads Behavioral Health, we offer programs that specialize in Dual Diagnosis. It may be just what you or a loved one need for recovery. Keep reading to learn more. 

What is Dual Diagnosis?

New Roads Behavioral Health | Dual Diagnosis: Alcoholism and Bipolar Disorder

Dual diagnosis could be defined as someone who is struggling with both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder simultaneously. With bipolar disorder and alcoholism, these two conditions often occur together, leading to individuals being dual diagnosed.

Almost half of the ones who have a mental health disorder will also have a coexisting substance abuse disorder at some point in their life. Both conditions existing together makes recovery only harder for the individual.

Why do substance use disorders and mental disorders occur together?

Although these problems often occur together, this does not mean that one caused the other, even if one appeared first. In fact, it can be hard to figure out which came first. Researchers think that there are three possibilities as to why they occur together:

  • Common risk factors may contribute to both mental disorders and substance use disorders. These factors include genetics, stress, and trauma.
  • Mental disorders can contribute to drug use and substance use disorders. For example, people with mental disorders may use drugs or alcohol to try to feel better temporarily. This is known as self-medication. Also, mental disorders may change the brain to make it more likely you will become addicted.
  • Substance use and addiction can contribute to the development of a mental disorder. Substance use may change the brain in ways that make you more likely to develop a mental disorder.

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis

Some of those with a dual diagnosis have no choice but to treat both conditions for recovery. For their treatment to be successful, the usage of any substance isn’t recommended. 

Treatments for dual diagnosis can include many things. From behavioral therapies, to dual diagnosis treatment centers. At New Roads Behavioral Health, their dual diagnosis treatment center can help those suffering from a dual diagnosis of alcoholism and bipolar disorder.

What is Alcoholism?

New Roads Behavioral Health | Dual Diagnosis: Alcoholism and Bipolar Disorder

Alcoholism can include many factors for a correct diagnosis. Including both alcohol abuse and dependence. Often referred to as alcohol use disorder, or alcohol dependence syndrome.

Alcoholism happens when an individual drinks to the point that their body will over time, become dependent on, or addicted to alcohol consumption. This leads to alcohol becoming the most important thing in their life.

Individuals with alcoholism are known to continue drinking, even when it is causing negativity and problems in their life. Such as losing their job, or relationships with those close to them. Knowing that their alcoholism is a detriment on their lives, but aren’t able to stop because it’s an addiction and abuse disorder.

Some may drink alcohol to the point where it’s constantly causing problems, but maybe they’re not dependent yet. That’s known as alcohol abuse.

Regardless, alcoholism is very serious. At New Roads Behavioral Health, we provide an alcoholism treatment program for those struggling with the disorder. Our substance abuse treatment program is available to be co-treated with other mental health disorders. Such as alcoholism and bipolar disorder together.

What Causes Alcoholism?

The cause of alcoholism is still not known. Alcoholism can develop when an individual drinks to the point of chemical changes in the brain appearing. These changes can increase the happy feelings one may experience while drinking alcohol. Making them sometimes want to continue drinking, even when it has a negative effect.

Over time, these happy feelings associated with drinking can disappear and now the one struggling with developing alcoholism will struggle to feel that happiness. Eventually leading to drinking only to avoid feelings of withdrawal. Which can feel very unpleasant and even become dangerous.

Alcoholism will usually develop over a period of time, depending on the individual and their occurrence of use. It is also known to run in families.

How Alcoholism and Bipolar Disorder Are Connected

New Roads Behavioral Health | Dual Diagnosis: Alcoholism and Bipolar Disorder

So, how are alcoholism and bipolar disorder connected? Well, statistically bipolar disorder is diagnosed in 3% of the population. While alcoholism is in 13-18%.

However, some studies prove that almost 45% of those suffering from bipolar disorder are also suffering with alcoholism. Since the disorders are found to co-exist quite often, knowing how to spot the symptoms/signs of them can help properly target the dual diagnosis and treatment that may be needed. 

Now, bipolar disorder characteristics include extreme mood changes, varying by person and situation. They can be manic, or depressive episodes that can go on for days, or even weeks and more. Other times, they can switch with less than a day between episodes.

Without the proper diagnosis, or treatment, living with bipolar disorder is very hard on an individual. Resulting in some to reach out for substances, like alcohol, to feel a short relief from their symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Because substances like alcohol will chemically affect the brain, they can alter moods and energy as well. This over time can play a role in the chemically imbalanced brain of an individual with bipolar disorder.

Though alcohol may bring a temporary relief for those with bipolar disorder, it’s more often than not a detriment to their mental health and proper treatment of the mental health condition.

How Does Alcoholism Affect Bipolar Disorder?

Coexisting alcoholism and bipolar disorder can lead to:

  • Longer Withdrawal Symptoms
  • Increased Severity of Manic Episodes
  • Higher Levels of Depression Symptoms

Additionally, alcoholism in those with bipolar disorder greatly increasing risk of suicide as well as overall dysfunction in living a normal life.

Alcoholism has an impact on bipolar disorder in more ways than one. Example, alcohol changes a person’s mood as well as lowering their coherence. This can lead to high increases in energy, or excitement.

Which in return, can trigger manic episodes. However, mania is usually tied to risky behavior. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to engage in these behavioral urges while under the influence of alcohol. 

Such as:

  • Drunk Driving
  • Illegal Activity
  • Unprotected Sex

The consequences of these choices in behavior can lead to very low episodes of depression. Thus why alcoholism and bipolar disorder existing together is dangerous. Leading to more intense symptoms of mania and potentially dangerous levels of explosive behavior.

Sadly, alcoholism is known to bring people to low levels of depression and anxiety. When someone is suffering from bother bipolar disorder and alcoholsim, it can extremely enhance depressive symptoms and lead to higher risk of suicide/self-harm, or other harmful behaviors.

So, overall alcoholism does have a hugely negative impact on those who are suffering from symptoms of a bipolar disorder. Which in turn makes the condition even harder to deal with, or find proper treatment for. 

Whether the abuse of alcohol is happening during depressive episodes, manic, or both, it’s extremely dangerous and even life threatening for those with bipolar disorder.

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis Alcoholism and Bipolar Disorder

New Roads Behavioral Health | Dual Diagnosis: Alcoholism and Bipolar Disorder

Finally, because alcoholism and bipolar disorder existing together is so complicated, a lot of individuals do not receive the correct treatment, or diagnosis for both disorders.

The cause of this can be the overlapping symptoms that make mental health conditions difficult to diagnose. As well as mental health disorders making the treatment of alcoholism harder to overcome.

Because alcoholism and bipolar disorder are commonly so intertwined, those who are struggling with both conditions will most definitely benefit from the correct diagnosis. As well as treatment for their dual diagnosis of alcoholism and bipolar disorder.

Finding experts on substance abuse disorders, such as alcoholism and treating them alongside your diagnosed mental health disorder, such as bipolar, could completely transform the outcome of your recovery.

The treatment that combines rehab for substance abuse and mental health counseling is where the term dual diagnosis comes from. Because the symptoms of both co-existing disorders overlap each other, they can be effectively treated together.

Using personalized treatment plans containing a variety of:

  • Behavioral Therapies
  • Counseling
  • Medications

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis treatment programs, such as New Roads Behavioral Health, offer these individualized treatment plans that correctly diagnose and target each specific condition and it’s symptoms. 

Allowing those individuals to learn the correct coping mechanisms and help them treat and overcome some of their symptoms from both conditions.

The treatment for alcoholism and bipolar disorder will typically start with a detox. The symptoms of bipolar disorders can make withdrawal symptoms from substance abuse wores. It is very crucial for patients to be medically stable before entering therapy.

After a detox, patients should join an inpatient, or day/night rehab. Throughout this rehab, their levels of care will be based on the severity of their symptoms of bipolar disorder and alcoholism.

Additionally, the patients can be prescribed medications to help treat their mental health symptoms. After their rehab, aftercare programs, counseling and other treatment options, programs like those at New Roads Behavioral Health will help patients sustain their recovery of alcoholism and bipolar disorder.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at New Roads Behavioral Health

Using our combined years of experience, leadership, and research, we believe we’ve created something better than your average “rehab.” We focus on treating our clients as whole and complex people. We help them find and develop their identities, both as individuals and as members of a community. 

Our research-based New Roads treatments combine the latest in addiction science with a cultivated community atmosphere, allowing us to guide clients through the recovery process with both efficiency and compassion.

If you, or a loved one are looking for a treatment program targeting dual diagnosis of alcoholism and bipolar disorder, New Roads is here to help. 

Recovery is possible. Contact us today: 1-888-358-8998