Bipolar disorder, once known as manic depression, is a severe mental health disorder. It involves abrupt and intense shifts in behavior, mood, and energy. Bipolar disorder and addiction often co-occur when a person tries to stabilize their moods with drugs or alcohol. For this reason, bipolar treatment centers in Los Angeles, like LA Detox, offer help to those with co-occurring bipolar and substance use disorders.

Statistics of Bipolar Disorder and Addiction 

Bipolar disorder and addiction often co-occur because many people with bipolar disorder attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. In addition, the following are statistics about bipolar disorder and addiction:

bipolar treatment centers Los Angeles

  • In a study, roughly 56% of people with bipolar disorder stated they also had an addiction
  • About 46% of people from the study group had alcohol use disorder
  • Nearly 41% of people from the group had drug abuse problems or addiction
  • Alcohol was the most commonly abused substance among people in the group with bipolar disorder

Bipolar treatment centers in Los Angeles can help people with addiction and bipolar disorder. Co-occurring disorders make recovery tough. People with bipolar disorder may have severe depression and intense episodes of mania. This emotional imbalance can interfere with the patient’s recovery program. Thus, they may struggle to comply with their treatment plan.

Therefore, someone with both bipolar disorder and addiction needs dual diagnosis treatment. This addresses both issues at the same time. Dual diagnosis treatment teaches a person healthy ways of coping with bipolar disorder. At the same time, they also learn how to manage relapse triggers and end the cycle of addiction.

The Relationship Between Bipolar Disorder and Addiction 

One reason for the relationship between addiction and bipolar disorder is that people try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Oftentimes, this is to cope with their mental health symptoms. For instance, symptoms like pain, depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness cause many people to use drugs and alcohol to cope. However, using drugs and alcohol can trigger symptoms.

Gender and age can also play a part in the relationship between bipolar disorder and addiction. Studies show that substance abuse is most common among young males than in other groups. Young men are more likely than older men or females to take risks or act on impulse. Thus, the extent of substance abuse is much lower among older adults with the disorder.

Researchers and specialists at bipolar treatment centers in Los Angeles think brain chemistry could influence bipolar disorder and substance abuse. In fact, they believe that people with bipolar disorder have abnormal dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels. These chemicals in the brain affect vital functions like sleep, metabolism, appetite, and stress responses. They also affect emotions and mood.

People with bipolar disorder may abuse substances to stabilize their moods. However, substance abuse will produce the opposite effect. Therefore, attempts to self-medicate often make symptoms worse.

Symptoms and Effects of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder symptoms will vary for each person. There are also many symptoms of depressive and manic episodes. Those who also suffer from addiction often have elevated bipolar symptoms. These 4 major mood episodes define bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania, depression, and mixed episodes.


Mania is the heightened mood for bipolar disorder and includes the following symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Irritability
  • Fast-talking or pressured speech
  • Insomnia
  • Impaired judgment
  • Irrational behavior
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inflated sense of self-confidence
  • Racing thoughts
  • Limited attention span
  • Reckless behavior

Some people have manic episodes so severe that they cannot function in a social or work setting. Those with these episodes may need inpatient care to stabilize their mood as a result. Los Angeles area bipolar treatment centers can help a person learn to manage their manic symptoms.


Hypomania and mania are similar, however, hypomania is less intense. People with hypomania can usually manage their everyday lives. However, they feel abnormally high levels of energy, happiness, or irritability. They may feel capable of taking on more or feel like they need less sleep.

In addition, people may find that they’re more friendly or talkative. People may also engage in risky behaviors, like substance abuse. Hypomanic periods are especially productive for some. Thus, it might seem like there’s no issue at all because psychotic symptoms do not occur during hypomania.


Another part of bipolar disorder is major depression. Depression causes symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, and hopelessness. Major depression with bipolar disorder could last a few days or weeks. Due to these symptoms, people in this state are at a high risk of self-harm or suicidal behaviors. The risk increases if the person also has a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Major depressive episode symptoms include:

  • Feeling hopeless
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Fatigue
  • Self-loathing
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Feeling worthless
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive guilt
  • Trouble concentrating

Like mania, people with depression often struggle in social or work settings. Symptoms must last at least 2 weeks for a clinical diagnosis of depression.

Mixed Episodes

Bipolar disorder episodes sometimes involve a mix of both manic and depressive symptoms. For instance, a person could have suicidal thoughts and lose interest in daily activities, along with racing thoughts, pressured speech, and sleeplessness.

People with mixed episodes might misuse substances to balance out their mood swings. But, substance use is just a temporary fix. Bipolar treatment centers in Los Angeles can help a person manage mood swings to simultaneously deal with the cravings of addiction.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

Diagnosing bipolar disorder and addiction is difficult because symptoms of bipolar disorder are similar to substance abuse and other disorders. Therefore, doctors diagnose bipolar disorder with diagnostic tests to distinguish between bipolar disorder and addiction.

Diagnostic tests for bipolar disorder include:

Psychological tests

A specialist evaluates the patient’s feelings and thoughts to look for evidence of any manic or depressive behavior. The specialist might also speak with friends and family to understand their patient’s behavior better.

Physical exams

The specialist performs a physical exam to decide if anything is causing brain imbalances. They’ll also review the patient’s medical history and substance abuse. Finding the causes of bipolar disorder can help to treat the condition.

Mood charts

The specialist might require the patient to chart their mood to determine the frequency and magnitude of episodes. In addition, these charts could include things like appetite changes and sleep patterns. This record of the patient’s episodes can help to make an accurate diagnosis.

Making comparisons

The specialist will compare the bipolar disorder symptoms against other issues. They do this because bipolar symptoms can similar to other conditions. For instance, some people have depression without having bipolar disorder. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can also mirror symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Treatment Centers for Bipolar Disorder and Addiction in Los Angeles

Dual diagnosis treatment centers use many therapeutic techniques to treat bipolar disorder. Examples include individual therapy, holistic therapy, support groups, and family therapy.

Other examples of bipolar and addiction treatment include:

  • Inpatient care at a rehab center
  • Treatment teams with therapists, psychiatrists, and addiction specialists
  • Emotional regulation skills
  • Relapse prevention strategies
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Peer support
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

It’s not enough to treat substance abuse and bipolar disorder by treating only one issue at a time. Therefore, the only way to avoid relapse is to receive care for both conditions. Relapse prevention plans for bipolar disorder patients must include coping skills for the mental and emotional triggers of substance abuse.

In addition, dual diagnosis can be treated in either an inpatient or outpatient program. Specialists at bipolar treatment centers in Los Angeles might also add medications to treat these conditions.

Medications for Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Medications can help patients with bipolar disorder and addiction during MAT. Addiction-specific medications ease withdrawal symptoms and curb cravings. As a result, a person can reduce the risk of relapse during detox. The FDA currently approves medications for alcohol or opioid use disorders.

Some of these medications include naltrexone, methadone, and disulfiram. As of now, the FDA does not have medications approved for other substances, like stimulants or hallucinogens. The addiction medication prescribed will depend on the patient’s substance they had abused. In addition, psychiatric medications help patients with bipolar disorder calm their mood shifts, thus bringing stability to their lives.

Some medications prescribed at bipolar treatment centers in Los Angeles include:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Lithium

Each of these treatment medications helps with either depressive or manic episodes. Benzodiazepines can help with manic episodes and withdrawal symptoms simultaneously. Specialists must be careful, though, when prescribing benzodiazepines because they can be addictive. Therefore, medication management and monitoring can help a person use prescriptions safely.

Contact Our Bipolar Disorder Treatment Centers in Los Angeles

Co-occurring bipolar and substance abuse disorders can negatively impact a person’s quality of life. At LA Detox, we have one of the best bipolar treatment centers in Los Angeles, California. If you or a loved one believes there is more to addiction than just substance abuse, dual diagnosis treatment can help.

Contact us today to achieve your goals of wellness and long-lasting sobriety.