Bipolar Disorder & Meth Abuse
- What is Bipolar Disorder?
- Meth-Induced Bipolar Disorder
- Meth Abuse & Bipolar Disorder
- Dual-Diagnosis Treatment
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness associated with sudden and sometimes extreme shifts in behavior and mood.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that attacks the central nervous system and causes symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations, and continuous motor activity. If used long enough, it can change the chemicals in the brain.
Because of how meth can change chemicals in the brain and how the brain functions, meth can worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder and make it harder to manage.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar is a mood disorder characterized by intense mood swings and changes in behavior, but it can also be characterized by the three major categories those shifts fit into: mania, hypomania, and depression.
- mania: A person experiences a high and has strong feelings of happiness, optimism, and energy. The person may experience rapid thoughts and need very little sleep. They may also act irrationally or impulsively and make dangerous decisions.
- hypomania: This is less intense than a manic episode. While the person will have a high level of energy and be active, they don’t feel as high as they would with mania.
- depression: Feeling a lack of emotions or deep sadness. The person may have a lack of energy, feel fatigued, have low motivation, or even have suicidal thoughts.
There are also three types of bipolar disorder:
- bipolar I: manic and depressive episodes
- bipolar II: hypomanic and depressive episodes
- cyclothymic disorder: less intense hypomania and depressive episodes
Substance-Induced Bipolar Disorder
Substance abuse and addiction can cause lots of harm to the brain and can even cause physical changes to it. It can change how the brain’s reward system works and change parts of the brain that affect mood and behavior.
Because of these changes, drug abuse can worsen or change the symptoms of bipolar disorder but it doesn’t necessarily cause it.
Bipolar disorder is a complex condition that’s linked to multiple causes including genetic predisposition, differences in brain function, and physical and psychological trauma. Even when a person is dealing with substance abuse, it’s difficult to say what the ultimate cause is.
Meth Abuse & Bipolar Disorder
While using methamphetamine doesn’t necessarily cause bipolar disorder, it can cause symptoms that resemble the disorder.
For people who use meth, racing thoughts, soaring moods, and heightened ambition are typically followed by periods of depressed mood and lethargy as the effects of the drug wear off.
These effects can cause people to either think they have bipolar disorder or attribute the symptoms to meth use and delay a bipolar disorder diagnosis.
The rapid shift in moods experienced by those with bipolar disorder is caused by a sudden increase in levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Methamphetamine use can also increase the levels of these neurotransmitters, making it hard to discover if the symptoms are due to meth abuse or bipolar disorder or other co-occurring disorders.
How Meth Affects Bipolar Disorder
Meth can ultimately make the symptoms of bipolar more intense. Some of the ways meth can make bipolar symptoms worse includes:
- causing mood episodes to cycle more rapidly
- reducing periods spent symptom-free
- adding unpleasant hypomanic symptoms like agitation
- bringing on paranoia and psychosis
- increasing chance of depressive episodes
- increased risk of suicide or other self-harming behaviors
Dual-Diagnosis Treatment For Bipolar Disorder & Meth Addiction
Treating bipolar disorder and meth addiction includes a few different factors. Most doctors will recommend both medications and therapy and want to deal with both disorders at the same time.
Why? Because it can help alleviate some of the unpleasant psychiatric symptoms and help people cope with cravings in healthier ways.
Clinicians are also likely to recommend medical detox and inpatient or outpatient rehab depending on how severe the problem is.
Addiction treatment medications can help with cravings and make withdrawal symptoms more bearable. The type of addiction medication you’re prescribed depends on the drug that’s been abused, although there are currently no FDA-approved medications for meth addiction.
Medications for bipolar disorder can calm mood shifts and make them less frequent. Some of the most common medications used for bipolar disorder include:
There are a few types of therapy that work with both bipolar and substance use disorder. They help people examine their thoughts and feelings so they’re better able to manage them during difficult episodes.
Some therapies that help with both addiction and mental health issues include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- motivational interviewing
- solution-focused therapy
If you or a loved one struggles with methamphetamine abuse, call our helpline today. We can help you find the right treatment options for your situation.
Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
This page does not provide medical advice.
National Institute of Mental Health - Bipolar Disorder
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Methamphetamine
National Library of Medicine - A case of methamphetamine use disorder presenting a condition of ultra-rapid cycler bipolar disorder
National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Bipolar Disorder
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