Recognizing and treating substance abuse in bipolar disorder individuals

For the millions of people all around the world struggling with bipolar disorder, managing certain symptoms can be more difficult than others.

For the millions of people all around the world struggling with bipolar disorder, managing certain symptoms can be more difficult than others. While a prescription for Abilify is a great way to help alleviate various traits of bipolar behavior, other characteristics may require additional forms of treatment. Substance abuse is one of the commonly associated symptoms of bipolar disorder, and arguably the most severe. According to the American Journal of Managed Care, approximately 56 percent of those with bipolar disorder have experienced drug or alcohol addiction at some point in their lifetime. Recognizing indications that you may be struggling with substance abuse before they worsen is essentially the best way to treat the symptom, as well as finding the right support procedures.

One study examined how to identify signals of substance abuse among teens with bipolar disorder. Researchers from the Universities of Toronto and Pittsburgh collaborated together to test 167 adolescent participants ranging from ages 12 to 17 to document the frequency and possible predictors of any initial signs of substance abuse. The subjects were interviewed an average of seven times for a duration of four years in order to inspect their symptoms, functioning, stressors and methods of treatment.

By using data from a previous study titled the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth, researchers found that 32 percent of the bipolar adolescents involved in the study eventually developed abuse or dependence of alcohol or drugs, usually within an average of 2.7 years after testing had started. The strongest indicators were repeated experimentation with alcohol as well as recreational use of cannabis, panic disorder, family history of substance abuse, low family cohesiveness and a lack of antidepressant treatment.

Dr. Benjamin Goldstein, a professor from the University of Toronto and lead researcher, stated how even the slightest hints of substance experimentation typically lead to repeated usage and eventual abuse of alcohol or drugs.

"In the case of adolescents with bipolar disorder, even so-called recreational substance use is playing with fire," Goldstein said in a statement. "We appear to have this window of 2 to 3 years during which we can attempt to prevent substance abuse in these youth. This study provides some clues regarding the types of preventive strategies that may be useful."

Looking out for substance abuse
There are many signs that predict substance abuse which can be portrayed through physical and behavioral mannerisms. Recognizing any combination of the following traits is the first step toward identifying a potential substance abuse problem:

  • Change in overall attitude for no apparent reason
  • Sudden signs of resentful behavior
  • General lack of motivation or focus
  • Episodes of silliness or giddiness
  • Behaving in a suspicious manner
  • Excessive need for privacy or shying away

In additional to these mental and behavioral traits, you can often tell if someone could be abusing drugs by the way they physically look or move. Red and watery eyes, cold and sweaty palms, excessive sweating and constant rubbing of the face are general signs that can signal whether a bipolar individual is currently struggling with substance abuse.

The best way to bring up the subject of treatment with someone close to you who could be battling substance abuse is to simply speak up and express your concerns. This can be a difficult process, but ignoring the issue or hoping it'll stop will most likely only make the situation worse. Support and help are typically the only ways you can encourage a person into receiving the treatment they need.

Keeping up with medication is one of the more efficient ways for bipolar individuals to avoid substance abuse. Abilify is one of the most trusted prescriptions when it comes to helping alleviate symptoms of bipolar disorder.