Substance abuse and bipolar disorder often go together, but why is this? Both bipolar disorder and substance abuse are mental disorders which can greatly interfere with a normal life. If you suffer from both of these issues then a dual diagnosis is required, and this can be a complicated process because of the many variables involved. Someone who has bipolar disorder will typically abuse drugs and alcohol in order to self medicate their symptoms and feelings, and this may provide short term relief but in the long run this will only compound the problem and make things worse. Roughly half of all the people who suffer from a mental disorder never receive any professional help, simply trying to cope with their symptoms on their own instead.
In order to get proper treatment for bipolar disorder and substance abuse the mental health professional must evaluate all of the symptoms the patient is experiencing and then determine which condition came first. Bipolar disorder can lead to substance abuse, but substance abuse has also been seen to cause mental illness as well. An accurate dual diagnosis must be reached before a comprehensive treatment plan can be developed which is effective. Medications for bipolar disorder may take a number of attempts before the right dosage schedule can be determined. If alcohol or drug abuse continues while medications are being used for bipolar disorder this can lead to dangerous complications. Alcohol or other drugs can interfere with the way that medications are absorbed into the body. Substance abuse will not improve bipolar disorder though, professional treatment is needed.