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Alcoholism And Bipolar Disorder


We have mentioned many times before how mental health and addiction issues can often intertwine. And according to recent research uncovered by U.S. News & World Report, people suffering from bipolar disorder (also known as “BD”) may be most at risk. Apparently, it is the highest-ranking co-occurring disorder associated with substance abuse.


U.S. News specifically called out alcoholism as a common link. Sadly, BD sufferers tend to abuse the bottle the most and are more likely to be hospitalized because of chronic drinking. The research also points out that the reverse may be true. In that scenario, people who are alcoholics and have a family history of mood disorders can quickly develop BD as their addiction worsens.


Both of these conditions can quickly escalate into a vicious cycle that U.S. News writer Brook McKenzie aptly labeled, a “tornado.”


“For those living with bipolar disorder, this mood disorder is best described as a tornado violently ripping through your life with unpredictable episodes of mania and depression,” McKenzie wrote. “These extreme mood swings and addictive tendencies can interfere with the functions of daily life at work, with family and other interpersonal relationships.”


McKenzie went on to list some BD warning signs, as many people are living with this disorder and are undiagnosed. Certain callouts include disorganized thinking (such as clutter across a home or car), crying for no reason, restlessness, euphoria, impulsivity and an increased use of profanity.


He also discussed the labels of BD, which include bipolar 1 and bipolar 2. Bipolar 1 is the most extreme case, where psychiatric hospitalization is necessary and day-to-day functions are impossible. Bipolar 2, however, is the more common occurrence and the one that is associated with alcoholism. It is considered milder and often leads to depression or suicidal thoughts. Research has shown that this is the stage where people often turn to drinking, as a way to numb feelings and ease emotional pain.


Of course, as we all know, alcohol DOES NOT lessen a person’s emotional pain and, in fact, increases it. Pairing this with an issue like BD or manic depression can be a very scary combination. McKenzie rightly calls out therapy and professional support as a solution for people suffering from these co-occurring disorders. That type of work is something the team at Inneractions specializes in and we are always available to step in and help at a moment’s notice.