Dealing with substance abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction is never easy, and its even more difficult when you’re also struggling with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. These individuals are diagnosed as having “Co-morbid” disorders, which make life increasingly more difficult because addiction and mental illness affect each other and interact. One common example is seen in bipolar individuals.
Why does addiction and mental illness seem to go hand in hand?
I think there are two main reasons why bipolar individuals suffer from addiction-they are either trying to control the “extremes” or they’re actually trying to create the extremes. People who struggle with bipolar and substance abuse often feel that their lives are out of control. People who have bipolar disorder swing between moments of extreme energy to moments of extreme sadness. Between their powerful mood cycles and the compulsive urges of addiction, they may feel that they’ve lost all power of self-determination. Substances can seem like a reasonable solution because they can calm the hyperactivity that comes with a manic episode, or allow them to experience periods of euphoria during a depressive episode. The addiction may temporarily mask the symptoms of bipolar disorder-but this “self medicate” will only be temporary.