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Bipolar disorder is a chronic medical condition of the brain characterized by mood swings between over-excitement and depression. People with the disorder often have difficulty controlling their emotions and moods. This makes it difficult for them to focus, to make decisions, and to cope with the stress of everyday life.  People with bipolar disorder are twice as likely as the general public to abuse alcohol or drugs, and about a third of those with the condition develop substance abuse problems. 

People with bipolar disorder are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as gambling, drinking to excess, and drug abuse.  Bipolar disorder does not cause people to take illicit drugs. However, people with the condition may experience drug effects that are similar to those produced by illegal substances. That is, some people with the disorder are more likely than the general public to develop substance abuse problems because of the relationship between bipolar disorder and addiction.

How Could Bipolar Disorder Cause Addiction?

People with bipolar disorder who develop substance problems often have a genetic link to the condition. This means that certain brain chemical changes that occur in people with the condition may develop during periods of high intensity emotion, such as in periods of mania or depression. 

Individuals with the condition may also be at greater risk of developing a physical addiction to drugs or alcohol, partly as a result of the link between mood-congruent and drug-seeking behaviors. There is even some evidence that individuals with the condition are more likely to be drug-seeking than the general population because of their high desire for novelty and the feeling of excitement and pleasure that drug use can induce.

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Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

Mood disorders, unfortunately, can often lead someone to have substance use problems. However, research has found a link between substance abuse and bipolar disorder that goes beyond the obvious connection between the two conditions. The researchers believe that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop addictive behaviors because of the widespread complexity of the brain chemistry that is involved in both disorders.  

Research has linked the incidence of substance abuse in people with bipolar disorder to the interaction between the two conditions. While most people with bipolar disorder do not become addicted, people with the condition are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol than the general public. 

This is because people with bipolar disorder are often thrill-seekers and want to try new things, while the rest of the population wants to stick to what they know. Individuals with the disorder are also more likely than average to develop a dependence on drugs or alcohol because of the way the two conditions interact with one another.

The Role of Stress in Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

While it is true that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to experience stress in response to life events, such as a major illness, divorce, or a job loss, the relationship between stress and addiction is complicated. There is a link between major life events and drug use, but the relationship between stress and addiction is complex.

A person’s response to stress is influenced by a number of things, including genetics and the person’s ability to manage stress. Some people with the condition are more likely than the general population to experience an excessive response to stress. This is called an overreaction and can be a sign of substance abuse or a behavior that could lead to it, such as reckless driving or risky sexual behavior.

Knoxville Recovery Center Can Help

People with bipolar disorder often have a difficult time regulating their moods. This can make it difficult for them to focus, make decisions, and cope with the stress of everyday life. A relationship between bipolar disorder and substance abuse is plausible given the link between mood-congruent and drug-seeking behaviors.

Many people first experience the negative side effects of drugs or alcohol when they are young. experimentation, and dependence can occur at any age, but the harmful effects of early drug use are significantly higher. The earlier you start using, the more damage you can prevent. If you are currently using drugs or alcohol, it is important to stop. Doing so will prevent lasting damage, save money, and improve your health.

If you or a loved one are currently struggling with an eating disorder, help is available! We encourage you to reach out to the professionals at Knoxville Recovery Center to learn more about our personalized treatment programs and mental health services. 

Knoxville Recovery Center was founded from firsthand experience of addiction and recovery, with a mission of providing a space where people can heal from addiction and other disorders in a compassionate, creative, open-minded, and heart-centered environment. We believe recovery is always possible. Our experts work with you to design a treatment plan that fits your needs. Common treatment programs include:

  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
  • On-site Detox
  • Full-time Addiction Treatment on campus
  • Mental Health Treatment
  • Aftercare Services

Contact us today for more information about how our programs and services can help you get your life back on track. You no longer have to struggle with an addiction or mental illness on your own. We are here to help.

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