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Freedom From Addiction is one of Canada's most innovative recovery homes, best known for providing evidence-based holistic treatment approaches to guide clients towards a life of healing and sobriety. We have a team of qualified healthcare professionals and addiction specialists who combine their knowledge and expertise to address co-occurring cases involving bipolar disorder and addiction.

How Bipolar Disorder Affects Addiction

Bipolar disorder, previously referred to as manic-depressive illness or manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes drastic and extreme shifts in a person's mood, emotions, behaviour, and energy level, affecting their ability to perform usual daily activities. 

These sudden changes range from manic episodes characterized by intensely optimistic, elated, irritable, or energetic periods to depressive episodes, where they feel incredibly down, depressed, and desperate. In some cases, there's also a period of mild bipolar disorder symptoms known as hypomanic episodes.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), there are three main types of bipolar disorder.

  • Bipolar 1 Disorder – The patient may have a mix of manic and depressive episodes. The manic episodes last for at least 7 days, usually so extreme they may require urgent hospitalization. The depressive episodes can last for a couple of weeks.
  • Bipolar II Disorder – The patient experiences a pattern of depressive and hypomanic episodes.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder – Otherwise known as Cyclothymia, it's a combination of hypomanic and depressive symptoms that usually do not meet the diagnostic criteria lasting for at least one year in children or adolescents and two years in adults. 

It is common for people with bipolar disorder to abuse alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription medication as a strategy to self-medicate and soothe their manic or depressive symptoms. In a way, this explains the undeniable connection between bipolar disorder and addiction.

The Importance of Treating Bipolar Disorder During Addiction Recovery

Mounting studies have established that there's a strong link between mental health illnesses and substance use disorder. Up to 70% of individuals who meet the diagnostic requirements for bipolar disorder also have a long history of substance abuse. 

Here are other important facts about the prevalence of bipolar disorder and addiction based on previous studies.

  • An article from the American Journal of Managed Care reveals that individuals with bipolar disorder are, on average, four times more likely to have a comorbid substance use disorder than the rest of the general population.
  • Those with bipolar I disorder were more than three times as likely to have alcohol abuse or dependence and about seven times more likely to have drug abuse or dependence than those in the general population.
  • In the National Comorbidity Survey of individuals diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder discovered 71% reported at least 1 lifetime substance use disorder, 61% alcohol dependence, 64.2% alcohol abuse, 40.7% reported drug dependence, and 46.1% drug abuse.

Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, any effort to implement bipolar disorder treatment becomes futile because it can worsen the symptoms, render interventions ineffective, and negatively impact a person's willingness to seek help.

How Bipolar Disorder Is Treated

Because some people with bipolar disorder can be symptomatic half of the time and some symptoms may resemble other types of mental health conditions, it can take six years on average before they receive proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Due to the potential delay and complexity as a co-occurring disorder to substance use, treating bipolar disorder and addiction can be a challenge. Over the years, medical experts have seen success in implementing a holistic dual-diagnosis treatment that uses integrative interventions that tackle both conditions simultaneously.

  • Pharmacotherapy – Using prescription drugs with low potential for abuse may be recommended by qualified healthcare professionals for bipolar disorder treatment to stabilize moods and manage symptoms. 
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy – CBT is a hallmark of dual-diagnosis treatments. It's a type of psychotherapy that helps clients become aware of their negative or problematic thought patterns that affect how they view and respond to various situations. CBT has shown impressive results in dealing with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and addiction.

At Freedom From Addiction, we acknowledge that each client has a different set of risk factors and experiences that led them to co-occurring bipolar disorder and addiction. Hence, we are committed to creating customized treatment plans and a firm believer in getting to the root cause of addiction versus doing a drug detox as a standalone solution.

At Freedom From Addiction, our co-occurring treatment includes:

Medical Detox

A drug or alcohol detox is an essential step in any addiction treatment. It gets rid of all harmful substances, resetting the client's body and increasing therapies' effectiveness. Freedom From Addiction offers safe, effective, and medically guided drug detox programs that help the body flush out alcohol or drugs while providing necessary support for the patient to manage the withdrawal symptoms as comfortably as possible.

Drug Addiction Treatment

We offer different types of drug addiction treatment programs tailored to fit the client's personal needs. We have residential treatment, in-house or hospitalization, outpatient programs, and behavioural counselling. We also have an impressive team of medical professionals and addiction specialists who are qualified to treat all types of addiction, including illicit substances like:

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Perhaps due to its legality and wide availability in the market, alcohol is the most abused substance for people with co-occurring disorders like bipolar disorder and addiction. Our dual-diagnosis treatment can also be modified to fit clients with bipolar disorder and alcoholism. Freedom From Addiction's alcohol addiction treatment services involve:

  • Helping families and friends stage interventions
  • Providing detoxification and psychosocial support designed to address drinking problems
  • Conducting individual and group counselling sessions for maintaining abstinence and relapse prevention
  • Giving family therapy and emotional support for loved ones who may have been hurt or want to be involved in the healing process.

Mental Health Treatment

The core of our dual-diagnosis treatment at Freedom From Addiction is our mental health treatment program. Aside from identifying the risk factors, past trauma, and potential triggers that may have resulted in the clients' bipolar disorder and addiction, this aspect is also designed to teach them how to unlearn negative thinking patterns, emotions, and unhealthy coping mechanisms by replacing them with positive behaviours.

Our mental health treatment involves integrative therapies, such as: 

Our Integrated Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment Approach

Given the compelling evidence from countless studies on co-occurring disorders, there's no denying that holistic dual-diagnosis treatment is key to achieving successful addiction recovery and, at the same time, complete healing from mental health illnesses. But in reality, not all drug rehab centres, especially government-funded addiction facilities, are equipped with the resources and expertise to offer dual-diagnosis treatment as the standard of care.

Due to lack of availability or access, many people helplessly wait until they complete their addiction or PTSD treatment before getting a referral for their substance use disorder or vice-versa, increasing risks of dropping out of rehab or relapsing. 

Our team at Freedom From Addiction has done our own research and extensive review of the scientific literature regarding addiction and concurrent disorders. We recognize the importance of treating both chronic illnesses simultaneously with individualized dual-diagnosis treatment plans and continuing care programs.

To learn how we can make a difference in the life of a loved one who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and addiction, contact Freedom From Addiction today!

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