The Relationship Between Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

addiction and bipolar disorder

Substance use disorders and mental health issues are often intertwined. One may lead to the other or one may significantly impact the other. There is a relationship between addiction and bipolar disorder that can lead to serious consequences if both conditions are not properly treated.

Bipolar Disorder

Everyone has ups and downs at some point in their lives. You may feel happy and then something might happen that will make you sad or angry. These types of mood swings are normal and typically don’t affect you for extended periods of time. However, bipolar disorder causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, and can impact your ability to function for months at a time. In years past, bipolar disorder was also known as manic-depressive illness; it is a condition with potentially severe symptoms.

When bipolar disorder is not treated, it can result in poor job performance, damaged relationships, and even suicide. When the disorder is treated appropriately, people who have it can lead full and productive lives. There are approximately 5.7 million adults in the US – about 2.6 percent of the population – who have been diagnosed with the disorder.

Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

Substance use disorders are common among people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In fact, some researchers have found that addiction and bipolar disorder are so often diagnosed together (a phenomenon known as comorbidity) that it may almost be regarded as the norm. The relationship between addiction and bipolar disorder is something of a vicious cycle.

Addiction to alcohol has been found to be most prevalent (42%) among individuals with substance use disorders, followed by those who use cannabis (20%), and those who use other illicit drugs, such as opioids (17%). Although bipolar disorder is diagnosed equally in males and females, males have higher rates of lifetime substance use disorders.

Addiction to drugs or alcohol has also been found to be one of the causes of bipolar disorder. People who have had no prior history with bipolar disorder have been known to develop it after years of substance abuse. Extended and excessive use of drugs or alcohol rewires parts of the brain and can severely affect mood and behavior.

Likewise, people who have bipolar disorder are seven times more likely to develop a substance use disorder. Over half of the individuals diagnosed with bipolar had a substance abuse issue at some point in their life.

Worsening Symptoms

For someone with bipolar disorder who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the mood swings associated with the disorder can become severe. In addition, individuals diagnosed with both disorders experience a higher number of poor judgment decisions, longer episodes of emotional instability, and an increased number of suicide attempts. Their worsening emotional swings could include severe irritability and hostility toward those around them.

Diagnosis Challenges

The relationship between addiction and bipolar disorder is so closely linked that it can be difficult to diagnose co-occurring bipolar disorder and substance use disorder. Bipolar disorder alone has multiple different subtypes and varied presentations. Many patients are incorrectly diagnosed with depression alone.

When someone is addicted to central nervous system stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines, it can lead to a sense of euphoria along with an increased energy level. These symptoms are very similar to those in an individual experiencing mania and hypomania.

On the other hand, misuse of alcohol and benzodiazepines can imitate depressive symptoms. When someone who is addicted is experiencing withdrawal, those symptoms can also be very similar to the depressed or mixed phases of bipolar disorder.

Treatment

Not only is diagnosis sometimes difficult for people with addiction and bipolar disorder but finding effective treatment can often be just as challenging. The two co-occurring disorders can result in devastating consequences, including social and economic issues, making treatment for both even more critical. Treatment should integrate medication management, cognitive and behavioral therapies, and a continuity of care that will help ensure both disorders are treated together successfully.

Dual Diagnosis Support for Men

At PACE Recovery, we optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your addiction to drugs or alcohol and mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

The professionals at PACE understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.

Alcohol Consumption by Generation

alcohol consumption by generation

Trends tend to shift with each generation, and that includes drinking habits. External circumstances can impact decisions on a generational level, as can the attitudes of the day. Social media has a significant influence on younger generations especially. The trends of alcohol consumption by generation are no different; they are unique to those considered to be Gen Z, Millennials, and Baby Boomers, as well Gen X and older consumers.

Six Generations

In 2021, there are six living generations, each with distinctly different characteristics. Of course, the generalized traits of each generation are just that – a profile based on how they tend to act, eat, and drink. A generation is defined roughly every 18 years, although some spans are a bit shorter.

The youngest generation today is called Generation Alpha. They were born between 2010 and the current date. Generation Z was born between 1996 and 2009; Millennials (or Gen Y) were born between 1977 and 1995; Generation X was born between 1965 and 1976; Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964; and the oldest generation alive today, the Silent Generation, was born before 1945.

The Younger Generation & the Social Media Effect

Some studies have found that the younger generations, particularly the Millennials and GenZers, are drinking less than their older counterparts. This is due in part to the fact that they fear what will happen when they lose control when drinking and how their actions will appear on social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.

These younger generations are concerned about their health as well, but are mainly influenced by a wider cultural shift that younger people have accepted as normal: that of being watched on social media. As a result, the sales of non-alcoholic beer and cocktails are on the rise.

In early 2019, it was reported that the sales of non-alcoholic beer have grown by 3.9% on average for the past five years, while beer sales overall have remained mostly flat. Non-alcoholic brews are now the fastest-growing segment in the beer industry.

Younger Generations Drinking Less

A 2018 report prepared by Berenberg Research found that GenZers around the world, along with their millennial counterparts, are drinking less than older generations did at their ages. The report also found that the Gen Z generation was drinking over 20% less per capita than millennials, and that the millennials were drinking less than Baby Boomers and the Gen X generation did at the same age.

The report also found that 64% of those respondents in Gen Z said they expected to drink alcohol less frequently when they grow older than the older generations do now. They cite health concerns, as well as concerns about hangovers and worries over how they will be judged when they drink.

A Different Type of Alcohol

The Berenberg Research report also found that members of Gen Z prefer spirits such as vodka or gin over wine or beer. That makes Gen Z the first generation of note to prefer other types of alcoholic drinks to beer. According to the researchers, the younger generations appear to appreciate the perceived quality of other options. They see beer, especially that produced by larger, national brands, as inauthentic and unappealing.

Baby Boomer Generation Trends

Contrasting with the younger generations, the baby boomers tend to enjoy their alcohol consumption much more than the generation that precedes them. Researchers have found a steady increase in alcohol use and binge drinking in the generation that is mostly comprised of individuals in the 65-plus demographic. It appears that many in the baby boomer generation have embraced the mistaken notion that moderate drinking is good for them.

There has also been an increase in alcohol use disorder, indicating mild, moderate, and severe abuse of alcohol. Binge drinking, which for men means consuming five or more drink in about two hours, has increased from 12.5 percent to 14.9 percent among the baby boomers, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Binge drinking accounts for about half of the 88,000 deaths caused by excessive drinking in the US annually.

COVID Increases by Generation

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol sales and consumption has increased significantly across all generations. In a study published in September 2020, a 54% increase in national sales of alcohol for the week ending March 21, 2020, was reported, as compared with 1 year before. Additionally, alcohol was consumed one day per month more by three out of four adults on average. The mean age of participants in the study was 56.6, with over half of the total participants in the 30-59 age range.

The trend is disturbing and could lead to dangerous consequences. In addition to the negative health implications of alcohol consumption itself, excessive alcohol use may also lead to or worsen mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, which may also be increasing because of the pandemic itself.

Gender-Specific Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

One of the unfortunate outcomes of the challenges of 2020 is a significant rise in drug and alcohol misuse. Additionally, more people than ever are battling anxiety and depression. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our programs and services. We offer gender-specific treatment for men who have a desire to turn their life around. Recovery is possible, and we can help.

Everyday Mental Health Strategies for Men During COVID-19

mental health strategies

These trying times have clearly highlighted the link between mental health and our overall well-being. Men’s mental health is an important – but often overlooked – concern in American society. While both genders experience mental illness, men face unique challenges in the pursuit of emotional wellness. Today, we’ve compiled a list of helpful everyday mental health strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Men Experience Mental Illness

The symptoms of men’s mental illness depend on each person and their condition. However, there are a few signs that are more common and easy to spot. They include changes to mood or energy levels, irritability, aggression, feeling “on edge” or emotionally “flat,” and obsessing over thoughts or behaviors. Physical indicators of a mental health crisis are unexplained aches and pains, risky behavior, substance abuse, isolating from others, and changes to sleeping and eating habits.

Several different factors impact men and their experience of mental illness. They include…

Societal Expectations. Men’s issues may develop from the tenets of toxic masculinity. Traditional gender roles cause many young men to believe that they should:

  • Avoid talking about (or openly displaying) their emotions
  • Support the family, while not needing any support themselves
  • Demonstrate masculine traits like control and strength
  • Rely on others without outside assistance

Higher Suicide Rates. While women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more than 3.5 times more likely to die from a suicide attempt.

Difficulty Seeking Help. Men are much less likely than women to seek help for addiction, trauma, and depression. Mental Health America asserts that a combination of societal norms, downplaying one’s symptoms, and a reluctance to open up can contribute to this phenomenon.

Prevalence. Schizophrenia (90% men) and substance abuse are key men’s mental health concerns. Depression, anxiety, and PTSD are more common among women than men; however, as stated above, men are much less likely to seek help.

Mental Self-Help for Men During COVID-19

Post-traumatic stress is a disruptive response to a life-altering event like COVID-19. Fortunately, research has shown that there is another potential outcome for survivors: post-traumatic growth. Among military personnel, firefighters, and EMTs, connection has the potential to transform troubling events into deep bonds. These friendships enable us to band together against a larger challenge. This approach is uniquely applicable for men, who often experience worsened mental health symptoms due to increased isolation and a reluctance to reach out or open up. Here are our top tips for fostering connection during COVID-19.

Get in Touch with Your Feelings

Men tend to repress their emotions; resist this urge and focus on feeling your feelings instead. During COVID-19, we are all feeling more depressed, anxious, and fearful than ever before. There’s no shame in admitting it. Journaling can be a great way to start analyzing your day (and how you feel about it) while still maintaining privacy. Once you become comfortable with identifying your emotions, you can start relaying them to others and asking for the right kind of mental health support.

Reach Out (To Anyone!)

Technology has allowed us to have deep conversations with our loved ones from halfway across the world. While you may not be able to see your parents or friends in person, they’re only a video call away. Whether you hop on the phone, send a text, or write a letter, try to be intentional about staying connected with your friends and family. Do your best to be open and honest about how you’re doing; you may be surprised by how much it helps.

Practice Introspection

You don’t have to be a meditation expert to benefit from some reflection. Many of us who have gone through addiction may find it difficult to think about ourselves. While looking inward can be uncomfortable, this type of check-in can assist you in identifying mental health issues before they spiral out of control. Take some time to understand yourself today.

Do Something to Help Yourself

If you’ve gone through treatment, you know that taking action is a vital part of recovery. You also know that it isn’t an easy thing to do. However, taking little steps to improve your life can make an incredible difference in your mental health. Think of meaningful ways to better your circumstances that don’t require a ton of effort, then start scaling up. Clean out your fridge. Run a load of laundry. Plant a small garden. Create a daily routine. Go to a meeting. Make a therapy appointment. These actions can transform your life.

Mental Health Support During the Pandemic

At PACE Recovery, we understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation, political unrest, and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health services, contact our Admissions team.

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