Living with Bipolar Disorder in Addiction Recovery

In over 25 years of treating addiction we have found a high percentage of our clients also suffer from a co-occurring mental disorders. Medical studies find that about 53% of chemically dependent individuals also have at least one serious mental illness. Bipolar disorder is one prone to chemical dependency as a way to self-medicate.

Struggling with bipolar and addiction can make recovery more challenging, but it is possible. Managing periods of intense depression alternating with episodes of hyper activity is part of the condition. This is why our Continuing Care Department monitors clients closely during the first year after discharge.

Part of our care is helping clients plan a day-to-day lifestyle before heading home. Many of the tools we suggest are introduced to our clients in treatment. These are some of them:

  • THERAPY – Regularly seeing a therapists and increasing therapy when intense mania and depression arise.
  • SUPPORT GROUPS – Attending regular addiction support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous.
  • FRIENDSHIP – Consistently connecting with a close friend. Someone who can talk and listen, especially on hard days.
  • EXERCISE – Regular exercise helps the body relax and destress. It is also paramount to managing bipolar and helps decreasing addiction cravings. 
  • PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS – Meditation, sticking to core values and talking things over with a friend.
  • FUN – Finding fun, creative and interesting hobbies to enjoy life.
  • JOURNALING – Recording thoughts, feelings and things to be grateful for.
  • PLANNING – Maintaining a daily planning calendar to stay organized and on top of responsibilities.
  • SLEEP – A regular sleep schedule is a must for those who struggle with bipolar. Going to bed at the same time and rising at the same time is important.
  • DIET – A healthy diet without caffeine, sugar, heavy sodium and alcohol is also strongly advised. These substances greatly affect blood sugar, hormones and mood.
  • FOCUS – Many with bipolar struggle with focus. Those with addiction struggle with impulse. A nice strategy is breaking a task down into pieces as not to be overwhelmed. As well, focussing on the outcome of a project.

Click here to read more about Co-Occurring Disorders.