Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment

Alta Mira Recovery Programs provides world-class residential treatment for drug and alcohol addiction and co-occurring bipolar disorders. Our unique therapeutic approach and expert staff ensure you or your loved one receives treatment and support needed for lasting change. Our evidence-based addiction and mental health dual diagnosis treatments, including residential care and therapy, offer the intensity and duration necessary to go beyond immediate recovery to help our clients attain greater independence.

Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects the brain and causes extreme shifts in mood, from manic highs to depressive lows. For those suffering from bipolar disorder, a dual diagnosis of bipolar and substance use disorder is common. All forms of bipolar disorder increase the risk of substance abuse for a number of reasons.

People with bipolar disorder often turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate their symptoms and regulate mood. Lowered inhibitions and increased risk-taking experienced during manic episodes can decrease one’s ability to self-regulate. As such, a person with bipolar disorder may be willing to try drugs and alcohol, consume more at higher quantities, and consume with greater frequency than they would otherwise.

This can either initiate or aggravate an addiction.

Co-Occurring Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse


Both bipolar disorder and addiction can interfere with a person’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks and function normally in society. Homelessness, financial problems, work issues, relationship difficulties, legal troubles, and suicide attempts are all possible complications of both bipolar disorder and addiction.

People who suffer from co-occurring bipolar disorder and addiction tend to experience intensified symptoms, increased duration of episodes, and an increase in negative outcomes. Substance use can make bipolar disorder more difficult to treat, and withdrawal may trigger bipolar symptoms.

Additional difficulties associated with co-occurring bipolar and substance abuse may include:

  • Earlier onset of mood swings
  • Worsening of symptoms
  • Increased suicide attempts
  • Increased rate of anxiety disorders
  • More depressive episodes
  • More frequent hospitalizations
  • Higher rate of accidents
  • Increased rates of rapid cycling
  • Poorer treatment compliance
  • More intense manic symptoms (increased irritability, poorer memory and concentration, diminished judgment, more risky and dangerous behavior, etc.)

Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Addiction


Alcohol is the most abused substance in individuals with bipolar disorder.

Many of those suffering from bipolar disorder turn to alcohol to suppress their symptoms. While alcohol may seem to provide temporary relief from bipolar disorder, it can also intensify the effects of the disorder, increase health risks over time, and interfere with medication compliance.

Drinking while on bipolar medication, such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, is potentially dangerous and not recommended. Most bipolar drugs should not be combined with alcohol and can result in side effects, such as increased depression, slowed breathing and heart rate, seizures, and even death.

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Bipolar Disorder and Drug Addiction


Substance abuse can include the use of prescription medications, such as benzodiazepines, which are sometimes prescribed to ease bipolar symptoms. Drug abuse can worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder that is difficult to break without professional intervention.

Lowered inhibitions and increased risk-taking experienced by many during manic, hypomanic, or mixed episodes decrease the ability or desire to self-regulate and increase risk-taking behaviors. A person with bipolar disorder may be willing to try drugs, consume more drugs or alcohol at higher quantities, and take them with greater frequency than they would otherwise.
When a person with bipolar is addicted to drugs, the risk of overdose also increases.

Drugs often intensify symptoms of bipolar disorder when the drug or alcohol wears off, which in turn can increase the need for relief from those symptoms with further drug use. Additionally, use of alcohol or illicit substances can cause overdose or even death when mixed with medications used to treat bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder and Cannabis Addiction


In an attempt to balance or eliminate unpleasant moods, individuals with bipolar may turn to a seemingly innocuous solution of relaxing with some weed.

Marijuana use, however, can cause significant problems for someone with bipolar disorder including:

  • Worsening of bipolar disorder symptoms
  • Inducing feelings of mania, paranoia, and psychosis
  • Producing more frequent and overwhelming depressive episodes
  • Increased likelihood of not adhering to prescribed medication
  • Younger age onset of first manic episode
  • Increased risk of rapid cycling

The use of marijuana with bipolar disorder can create complications by causing mood instabilities and psychosis in some people. Observational studies have shown that the correlation of cannabis use with the increase of hypomania and mania relapses makes it especially dangerous for those with bipolar I.

For individuals diagnosed with bipolar II, it is possible to develop a marijuana-induced manic episode with psychotic features as well as increased mood instability, fluctuating state, suicidal ideation, and hypomania.

Cannabis-induced bipolar disorder occurs when someone who misuses marijuana experiences bipolar symptoms as a result. Evidence shows that marijuana use can trigger bipolar disorder, and specifically manic episodes, not just in people who have already been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but those who have never experienced symptoms before.

Bipolar Disorder and Opiate Addiction


Drugs such as opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine) work by excessively activating the reward circuit of the brain, driving the individual to crave more, eventually creating a dependency. Additionally, withdrawal symptoms can develop if the individual stops using the drug.

Since both bipolar disorder and opiate addiction are linked to brain changes, using opiates while battling bipolar disorder may have a greater impact.

Bipolar and Substance Abuse Integrated Treatment and Outlook


It is recommended that co-occurring bipolar disorder and substance use disorder be treated concurrently by professionals.

At Alta Mira, we take an integrated treatment approach to bipolar and addiction treatment. Our team works together to treat issues associated with both disorders and any other co-occurring conditions.

Treatment options include psychotherapy, medications used to treat substance use disorders, and/or medications used to treat bipolar disorder. By working together with treatment professionals, individuals with bipolar disorder and addiction can learn to manage their illnesses and live healthier, happier lives.

Residential care is essential in treating both co-occurring disorders in a safe, controlled environment. Longer-term residential treatment programs go beyond detox and immediate stabilization and allow time for clients to learn coping strategies to manage each disorder.

During bipolar and addiction treatment at Alta Mira, you’ll receive medically supervised detox, individual and group therapy and ongoing support, relapse prevention education, and any medications necessary to treat your conditions. Your psychotherapy sessions can be useful to help you explore the underlying causes of your disorders and to change old habits and ways of thinking.

Treatment for and recovery from a dual diagnosis is a long process, often determined by which symptoms are caused by a mental health disorder and which are caused by the substance use disorder. However, with time, care, and support, the prognosis is good. Most patients who complete treatment are able to lead healthier, happier lives.

Alta Mira Bipolar and Addiction Treatment Center


We provide safe, compassionate care in a serene setting overlooking the San Francisco Bay where clients can focus on their addiction recovery and co-occurring bipolar disorder treatment.

Alta Mira Drug Addiction Treatment Center

  • Comprehensive Neuropsychological Testing and Assessment. We properly diagnose and treat an extensive range of illnesses and disorders that may be contributing to your addiction.
  • World-Class Clinical Staff. Our expert clinical team provides individual therapy using proven evidence-based treatment modalities to treat opiate addiction.
  • Individualized Treatment Plans. After our thorough neuropsychological and psychological assessments, we create an individualized treatment plan that offers profound healing and strategies for overcoming the toughest obstacles.
  • Luxurious Private Location. We are located in a serene, historic setting with panoramic views and casual elegance. Our therapeutic amenities and activities help our clients reconnect with body, nurture their spirit, and reignite a sense of fun and adventure.

If you’re ready to learn more about our treatment programs, please contact us today today.