The dramatic swings between the different stages of bipolar disorder can pose unique challenges for those looking to address it in conjunction with substance abuse or addiction. Yet, a positive outcome and sustained recovery depend heavily on the therapist’s ability to help the sufferer confront both their addiction and the effects of the disorder.
Northbound takes a proactive approach to bipolar disorder treatment, looking at and helping our clients work through the emotions and feelings they are currently experiencing. Clients work in group therapy with peers who have experienced similar symptoms of bipolar disorder and can provide hope and guidance.
At the same time, we also respect the client’s right to dispute a diagnosis; we never label clients. Instead, we work to educate clients and their families, giving them the tools they need to work toward recovery and process the emotions and risk-taking impulses they experience. In fact, treatment and therapy don’t necessarily have to rely on a diagnosis of bipolar disorder—the focus is to help people, not label them.
The manic stage of bipolar disorder can last for days or months. Some of the symptoms are:
- Easily sidetracked or distracted
- Lack of good judgment
- Inability to properly control temper
- Recklessness and poor self-control
- Excessive use of alcohol and drugs
- Sexual promiscuity
- Unrestrained spending
- Constant elation
- Hyperactive behavior
- Extra energy
- Rapidly changing thoughts
- Excessive talking
- Overconfidence or a false sense of one’s abilities
- Over-involved in numerous activities
- Easily agitated or annoyed
The depressive stage may also last for days, and the symptoms can include:
- Down mood or sadness experienced on a daily basis
- Struggles with concentration, memory recall, or decision making
- Problems with eating
- Loss of weight
- Loss of appetite
- Tendency to overeat
- Weight gain
- Lethargy or low energy
- Feelings of insignificance, despair, or guilt
- Lack of enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities
- Low self-esteem
- Preoccupation with death and suicidal thoughts
- Insomnia or too much sleep
- Antisocial behavior
Once a client is stabilized after a severe manic episode, therapy can and will become beneficial. Often, medication will be used to help stabilize individuals suffering from depression and bipolar disorder so that they can better participate in their recovery and so therapy can be as effective as possible. Because every client’s treatment is constantly evaluated and modified as necessary to respond to his or her needs, the process is progressive and always changing. Finally, while Northbound seeks to minimize use of medication as much as possible, where it can be critical to helping improve the chance of recovery, it is dispensed under the direction of a psychiatrist, with differing medications and therapies being utilized to give our clients the highest level of care possible.
Sufferers of bipolar disorder often experience emotional numbness and diminished interest in significant activities (family members may experience this in a loved one who seems “cold” or “spaced out”). Fortunately, this effect of the disorder can be relieved by medication. Medications that enhance brain serotonin function may improve emotional problems co-occurring with bipolar disorder, allowing the client to engage with others more normally. Other mood-stabilizing medications that are known to affect dopamine and other neurotransmitters may also help people who experience mood swings.
Northbound Treatment Services takes into account the individual needs of every client we help, creating a customized treatment plan that will give him or her the best chance for recovery. A typical bipolar disorder treatment plan would include a well-rounded clinical and holistic bundle, covering medical, physical, mental, emotional, nutritional, educational and spiritual needs. As with all of our programs, our focus is on the solution, not the problem, as we look to provide direction and instill hope in our clients.
The Family’s Role
Clients suffering from bipolar disorder and chemical dependency often experience many difficulties, both personal and professional. As a result they generally become very dependent on their families. This can become a burden on the family, which could also benefit from education and counseling, both to begin the healing process themselves, and also to support their family member’s recovery. In order to give both the family and the client the best chance to find healing and support together, Northbound offers a monthly family program that helps the families of our clients find hope and understanding in a caring, nurturing setting.
If you or your loved one is experiencing alcoholism or drug addiction co-occurring with bipolar disorder, you need to find a facility that understands the difficulties of that diagnosis and will provide a compassionate, individualized treatment plan. Call Northbound Treatment Services today to take that first step towards a new, healthy and sober life.