kathy ireland® Recovery Centers


At kathy ireland® Recovery Centers, we provide treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring conditions, including bipolar disorder (BD). According to research published in Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, “the lifetime prevalence of SUDs is at least 40% in bipolar I patients.” Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is one of the most common dual diagnosis for individuals with bipolar disorder.

The expert staff at our various facilities can help you cope with any symptoms of bipolar disorder you may experience during treatment. We use a range of modalities to treat symptoms for comorbid conditions, including:

  • Peer support
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Medication management
  • Skill development
  • Case management
  • Aftercare planning

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that affect a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” The symptoms exist along a spectrum, and the fluctuations in mood and energy level vary significantly from person to person. The NIMH reports that “an estimated 4.4% of US adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.”

Different Types of Bipolar

Bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder are the three types of bipolar disorder. According to research reported by NIMH, all three types “can cause unusual, often extreme and fluctuating changes in mood, energy, activity, and concentration or focus.” The primary difference between them is the severity of the manic and depressive symptoms.

  1. Bipolar I: This type of bipolar disorder features a series of cyclic highs and lows in mood and energy level, including manic and depressive episodes that can last for weeks or months. Treatment usually involves prescription medication and psychotherapy.
  2. Bipolar II: This type of bipolar disorder features fluctuations between hypomanic and depressive symptoms that can last for weeks or months. The symptoms are slightly less severe than those seen in bipolar I. Treatment usually consists of medication and psychotherapy.

Cyclothymic Disorder: The fluctuations between moods and energy levels are not as pronounced as those seen in bipolar I and II. We treat it using psychotherapy and sometimes prescription medication.


Risk Factors for Developing Bipolar Disorder

Scientists are not sure why yet, but there appears to be a significant link between alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependency and bipolar disorders. Some researchers believe it may be related to genetics, but more studies are necessary to determine the root causes of bipolar disorder.

According to MedlinePlus, “many individuals with bipolar disorder have relatives with other mood, anxiety, and psychotic disorders (such as depression or schizophrenia).” Many other factors can contribute to the development of bipolar disorder, including:

  • Brain structure
  • Living environment
  • History of substance use disorders
  • History of mental health disorders
  • Chronic or acute stress

Link Between Alcohol Use Disorder and Bipolar Disorder

According to Current Psychiatry Reports, “the comorbidity of AUD in BD can reach 45%” and “the odds ratio for AUD in bipolar I disorder is higher than for bipolar II disorder.” The connection between AUD and BD is complicated and can include alcohol being used as a form of self-medication to cope with symptoms or could be independently occurring alcohol dependency or AUD and bipolar disorders. The above article also states that dual diagnosis involving AUD and BD can lead to the following:

  • Increased time to withdrawal from alcohol
  • More severe manic and depressive symptoms
  • Associated psychopathology
  • Increased risk of suicide
  • Poorer prognosis
  • Increased morbidity rate
  • Decreased degree of functioning

Integrated treatment provides the best outcome for individuals with co-occurring bipolar and alcohol use disorders. Some of the programs we offer at kathy ireland® Recovery Centers include medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which is often necessary for treating a dual diagnosis of BD and AUD. We use Naltrexone and other prescription medications at our facilities that offer detox and withdrawal stabilization. To learn more, visit our page on Alcohol Addiction.


How Misusing Substances Affects Bipolar Symptoms

Bipolar disorders can be hugely destabilizing — especially if left untreated — because they cause extreme changes to behaviors and thought patterns over the course of weeks and months. The depressive and manic symptoms can last for long periods and make it difficult to focus on treatment. Depression, ambivalence, and dysphoria are not uncommon in individuals getting treatment, and these can be more severe in people with BD. The effects of SUD on individuals with bipolar disorder include:

  • More severe mood swings
  • Increased risk-taking behaviors
  • Adverse health effects caused by the substance
  • Withdrawal symptoms

The risk of relapse increases for individuals with BD and SUDs.

Co-Occurring Conditions and Bipolar Disorder

Individuals with bipolar disorder and SUD sometimes have other co-occurring mental health disorders that may include:

  • Anxiety and trauma-related disorders
  • Other mood disorders
  • Conduct disorders

Treating bipolar disorder can eliminate or decrease symptoms of related disorders and lower the risk of developing other mental health conditions. A solid support system is essential when recovering from SUD while experiencing several co-occurring conditions. We offer skill development, peer support, and family therapy to help you maintain or create a healthier support system during treatment.

Young man in glasses comforting his depressed friend during meeting with counselor

Aftercare Planning and Long-Term Treatment

Bipolar disorder requires ongoing treatment and therapy, but you can successfully manage the symptoms in a way that allows you to live a full and healthy life. At kathy ireland® Recovery Centers, we will provide you with the tools and resources you need to continue healing while managing your BD. When you complete our rehabilitation program, your clinical team or case manager will refer you to the next stage of treatment and provide referrals and information about local private and community-based facilities and recovery groups. Many resources exist, including bipolar self-help groups and therapists who focus on treating dual diagnoses involving BD.

Bipolar disorders are one of the most common co-occurring mental health conditions.

The clinicians at kathy ireland® Recovery Centers can help you cope with depressive or manic symptoms while you receive treatment for SUD. Learn more by calling us today: (866) 861-9772.

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