Bipolar and Alcohol: Finding the right detox process for your dual diagnosis

dual diagnosisBipolar is characterized by an unusual change in mood often from a depressive state to a state of elation. Alcohol and bipolar is one of the common co-occurring mental problems that scientists are still researching. Great scientific strides have been made in treating and managing these co-occurring conditions.

Most people with co-occurring conditions use substances to treat the symptoms of their mental conditions. Studies suggest that people with bipolar are amongst the most prone to alcoholism. 44% of people with bipolar disorder have a co-occurring alcohol problem.

Importance of Getting Treatment Early On

If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, it is important to get treatment from top dual diagnosis treatment centers. This mental condition tends to become worse with time. The problem is often compounded by the use of alcohol or drugs which research shows people with bipolar are prone to.

People with bipolar disorders experience a dramatic change in mood that can affect their judgment, ability to function at home, at work, or in a social setting. They can move from a period of feeling elation to a period of depression and melancholy that may be more severe than most people with depression go through.

Alcohol is often used to self-medicate and reduce the severity of the symptoms of depression. During periods of elation alcohol makes the individual feel happy and carefree and during periods of depression alcohol is used to reduce the feelings of sadness.  

Complications of the Bipolar Alcohol Co-occurring Condition

Sadly, the continued use of alcohol makes treating the co-occurring conditions more complicated. Alcohol changes the brain chemistry and makes the mood swings even worse.

Alcohol only gives a temporary relief that ends up making the condition worse in the long run.

The good news is people with an alcohol and bipolar disorder co-occurring condition can get better. In fact, some studies suggest that people with this co-occurring disorder have a better chance of recovering from alcoholism than people struggling with an alcohol problem only. This may be because most people with bipolar and alcoholism problem only use alcohol to self-medicate. However, once the patient has joined a dual diagnosis treatment facility they get better faster.


Before dual diagnosis treatment, co-occurring conditions were treated separately. Sometimes only one of the conditions would be treated and the other ignored. However, this led to a high rate of failure because the relationship between the two issues was not addressed.

Professional rehabilitation treatment centers understand the value of dual diagnosis in treating co-occurring conditions. Treatment for alcoholism and bipolar disease may include:

  • Psychotherapy for the patient
  • Collaborative treatment by trained staff to ensure the patient gets the best dual diagnosis care
  • Group and Peer Counseling
  • Medication to help treat Bipolar disorder


Some of the medication that is given to people with bipolar disorder includes Lithium and Valproate. Lithium is effective in treating people with non-mixed mania. However, it is not very effective in treating people with mixed mania and those with a co-occurring alcohol problem since most of them develop mixed mania in the long run. Valproate has some side effects and its safety has sometimes been questioned.

Treating an alcohol and bipolar co-occurring disorder can be successful if all the interventions mentioned above are applied where necessary. For the best treatment for alcohol and bipolar look for professional dual diagnosis centers.

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