Co-Occurring Disorders: The Impact of Bipolar Disorder on Addiction

Medically Reviewed by Peace Valley Recovery Editorial Staff,
Last Updated: January 2, 2022

Co-occurring disorders, such as bipolar disorder, are very common among people with drug and alcohol addictions. Quite often, their substance abuse problem has become a way for them to cope by self-medicating their symptoms.

Not only is abusing substances dangerous for a person’s health and well-being, but it also is not an effective method of managing mental health symptoms. Most people find that even though it may work for a short time, self-medication is not sustainable. Tolerance levels change quickly, and what once worked, eventually no longer does.

It is not uncommon for people to continue to add different types of drugs to the “cocktail” they use to treat their bipolar symptoms. Getting proper treatment for both bipolar disorder and addiction is the best way to manage this co-occurring disorder.

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How Common are Co-Occurring Disorders?

A lot of people are battling mental health conditions and choosing to use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • There are 7.7 million adults who are struggling because of co-occurring mental health issues and addictions.
  • 20.3 million people have substance abuse disorders, and among those people, 37.9% of them also had a mental health issue.
  • 42.1 million people have mental illnesses, and among those people, 18.2% of them also have substance abuse disorders.
  • The problem i