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Bipolar and Alcohol Abuse

Man suffering from bipolar and alcohol abuse
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In some instances, bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder occur together. When a person is coping with more than one mental health concern at a time, it’s often referred to as having co-occurring disorders. Getting both alcohol addiction treatment and treatment for bipolar disorder at the same time is key to lasting addiction recovery.

The Bluffs offers treatment for co-occurring disorders. Call The Bluffs today at 850.374.5331 and speak to one of our friendly admissions experts for more information.

How Are Bipolar and Alcohol Abuse Connected?

Although the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that approximately 9.2 million U.S. adults are currently coping with co-occurring conditions, the relationships between alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder aren’t exactly understood. In some cases, people begin using alcohol or other substances to self-medicate the bipolar symptoms they experience.

People who self-medicate may never have received an official diagnosis and are trying to manage their symptoms on their own. Some people have undergone a psychological evaluation and know they have bipolar disorder, but treatment has not helped, or they prefer not to use the treatments that have been offered.

In other cases, alcohol abuse or addiction may have developed before bipolar symptoms began to emerge. Whatever the case may be, three main factors are likely to play a role.


Drinking to ease depression is a common behavior among adults. However, over the long term, drinking alcohol makes symptoms of depression even worse because alcohol is a depressant. If a person begins relying on alcohol to ease the depressive phase of their bipolar disorder, it can lead to a vicious cycle.


During the euphoric or hyperactive phase of bipolar disorder, inhibitions are down, and poor judgment is common. “Partying,” drinking, or doing recreational drugs to excess are not habits that every person with bipolar disorder practices, but for those who do, increased alcohol abuse during this time could lead to an alcohol use disorder.


Genetics have a profound impact on brain chemistry. The same genetic traits that put a person at high risk for bipolar disorder may also increase the risk for alcohol use disorder and other substance use disorders.

Alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder are a dangerous combination. Both challenges make the other even more difficult to cope with. Having co-occurring mental health concerns increases the symptoms of both conditions and places people at a greater risk for mood swings, violent behavior, depression, and suicide.

Treating Co-Occurring Conditions

Treatment for both bipolar and alcohol abuse is more successful when co-occurring disorders are treated together. Whether a person began drinking to manage their bipolar symptoms or living with bipolar disorder resulted in alcohol abuse, both conditions need to be addressed for the best possible outcome.

Signs that you or someone you care about may need treatment for co-occurring conditions include:

  • Significant weight change
  • Irritable or defensive behavior when confronted
  • Poor personal hygiene, wearing dirty clothes, or generally poor self-care
  • Not meeting responsibilities, including at home, work, or school
  • Excessive fatigue, sleeping all the time

Not every treatment center is equipped to manage the treatment of co-occurring disorders. Some of the therapies that are needed for a successful outcome include:

  • Medically supervised detox
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Patient education
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Trauma therapy
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy

Before receiving treatment, be certain the rehab center you choose provides a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan that can address your specific needs.

Find Help for Co-Occurring Disorders at The Bluffs

At The Bluffs, we understand how difficult it is to cope with multiple mental health concerns at the same time. That’s why we offer a variety of programs, including inpatient, outpatient, intensive, and partial hospitalization programs to our patients. If you have bipolar disorder and an alcohol or substance use disorder, call The Bluffs today at 850.374.5331 and get the support you need.

The Bluffs is a private alcohol, substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in central Ohio.

The central Ohio location means we are also just a short drive (or even shorter flight) from Pittsburgh and other parts of Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan.

We offer alcohol and drug detox services, dual-diagnosis addiction treatment, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and more.

Our goal is always to minimize the out-of-pocket costs for patients coming to The Bluffs. We work with many major health insurance plans and providers such as America’s Choice Provider Network, Anthem, Beacon Health Options, BlueCross BlueShield, First Health Network, Humana, Magellan Health, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Mercy Health, OhioHealth, Prime Healthcare, UPMC Health Plan, and the Ohio Department of Veteran Services

Contact The Bluffs Now

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