Poor Me, Poor Me, Pour Me Another Drink

Bipolar disorder and alcoholism often occur together. Although the association between bipolar disorder and alcoholism isn’t clearly understood, these factors likely play a role:

Addiction to alcohol and bipolar disorder are very commonly present together. In fact, some studies have found that the majority of individuals with bipolar disorder will develop an alcohol abuse disorder of some kind during their lives. Some estimates suggest that up to 43% of individuals with bipolar disorder have some form of an alcohol abuse disorder at any given time.

Many people believe bipolar disorder references someone experiencing happiness one moment and sadness or anger the very next as if someone turned on a switch. This is far from the reality of bipolar disorder. Hopelessness or feeling lost can occur, fluctuating to intense feelings of happiness, or numbness. It may seem like a constant back and forth struggle, but it is so much more to each individual suffering.

People who suffer from bipolar disorder often feel out of control or out of touch with their life. Unsure of what to do or how to feel when an episode occurs make turning to alcohol a very appealing solution in relieving these mind-numbing symptoms.

Alcohol helps calm nerves, especially in social settings. It can possibly relieve the negative symptoms of bipolar disorder temporarily, yet can increase chances of worsening the disorder later on.

Alcohol is known to intensify bipolar disorder due to its sedating effects. It acts similarly to some medications, risking feelings of depression with each swig of alcohol. Alcohol also greatly increases the severity of mania, which many who suffer from bipolar find extremely pleasurable. Although, alcohol can increase the negative effects of bipolar disorder in either direction, flaming the fire with each sip.

Drinking on bipolar medication can turn one drink into several, especially drinking on an empty stomach. Alcohol can also destabilize bipolar disorder, giving up your control of emotions to an empty glass.

What Causes Bipolar Individuals to Drink?

Regardless of the blurred nights and the draining hangovers leading to mixed intensified feelings once the alcohol leaves the body, many bipolar individuals still choose to drink. For some, the relaxed feelings and the heightened mania far outweigh the negative effect alcohol has on the mood.

The higher the high alcohol would bring, the lower the low a bipolar individuals mood would project onto daily life, yet for some it is all worth it. Alcohol eases the anxiety between the crazy feelings and the ups and downs bipolar disorder brings about. Mild drugs don’t seem to cut out all the symptoms many feel with bipolar disorder. Additionally, many with bipolar disorder find that the side effects of most medications are so extreme that they would rather self-medicate and deal with the consequences.

Although alcohol can provide relief from bipolar disorder, it also endangers an individual with the illness, intensifying the effects of the disorder and increasing risks over time. It is not recommended to drink when you suffer from bipolar disorder, as uncomfortable and unwanted episodes can occur from any amount you may drink.