Bipolar disorder is a mental health illness that leads to rapid, fluctuating shifts in mood, thought processes, activity, and energy levels. Previously known as manic-depressive disorder, it was thought that a patient fluctuated from depression to mania (periods of extreme excitement and elation). However, it is now known that a bipolar patient who is experiencing mania can also be depressed; and, alternatively, when in the depressed state, a patient can suffer from irritability, anxiety, and paranoia, which are symptoms of mania. When this state occurs, the patient is diagnosed with bipolar disorder- mixed type.
Due to the extreme mood shifts, bipolar disorder can be extremely dangerous to self and others, if untreated. The changed in through process and content can lead to aggression towards self or others, or to suicidal tendencies. Also present are impulsive, poorly thought-out actions, that can lead to grave consequences and harm.
Because of the effects of substances of abuse, bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose in chemically addicted persons. Because of this, the dual diagnosis rehab treatment staff must look as far into the history of the patient as possible, and gather strong collateral information from family members, friends, and previous healthcare providers. Early diagnosis of bipolar disorder in the setting of substance abuse is critical for safe and effective treatment of both disorders. Concurrent treatment is essential, to ensure that neither disorder goes under or untreated. This can lead to a cycle of mental health problems and substance abuse with a poor prognosis.
Many advances in the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder co-occurring with drug addiction and alcoholism have been made in recent years. Rapid stabilization of the addiction, along with prescribed medications for bipolar disorder is paramount. Interestingly, some of the medications used to treat bipolar disorder are also used to decrease cravings in substance abusers, especially for those who enter drug and alcohol rehab for the treatment of cocaine and alcohol addiction.
A comprehensive treatment plan should be developed by the treatment team. The team should work closely with the patient’s support network in developing this plan. Unfortunately, many relationships may have been destroyed by the dually diagnosed patient with bipolar disorder and addiction. A focus on healthy communication and the development of relationship skills can provide reassurance to the patient that they will have a comfortable transition back into their home environment.
Because medication compliance is of the utmost importance when undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder, it is likely that the facility will recommend the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) level of care, along with supportive housing. In this setting, medication compliance can be documented. If the patient is suicidal or experiencing acute manic symptoms, it is best that the patient be treated in an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab.
Behavioral Wellness and Recovery’s psychiatric and clinical team is experienced in treating co-occurring disorders. Our staff has years of experience in treating patients who suffer from bipolar disorder and addiction. To begin your journey to recovery, please call us confidentially at 800-683-4457. Our Admissions Coordinators are available 24/7 to assist you with questions and to guide you through the admissions process.
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