Drug abuse of any kind can lead to a number of negative side effects on a person’s health and overall well-being. But, is the development of bipolar disorder among these effects? Is it possible for drug abuse to cause bipolar disorder? To determine this, one must first understand what drug abuse is, how it impacts a person’s body and mind, and how bipolar disorder is developed.
The Impact of Drug Abuse
Abusing drugs can have a sizable impact on a person’s health, wellness, and life in general. However, drug abuse and its numerous effects are often misunderstood by many Americans.
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What is Drug Abuse?
When asked what drug abuse is, most people will likely respond with an answer that resembles something closer to drug addiction than drug abuse. Drug abuse occurs anytime a person consumes any drug in excess, not as prescribed or instructed, or any drug that is illegal.
Because of this, drug abuse applies to a variety of situations. For example, if a person consumes an excess of ibuprofen for a headache, their drug use can be considered abuse. Furthermore, if a person consumes cannabis in a state where cannabis is still illegal, their drug use is also drug abuse – even if it might be legal on the other side of a state line.
Side Effects of Drug Abuse
The side effects of drug abuse can have an extremely large variation, depending on what substance was abused, the amount abused, how long the substance was abused for, and more. However, nearly every kind of drug abuse often has a number of serious consequences. Drug abuse can impact a person’s relationships, occupation, finances, education, and more.
One of the most significant impacts drug abuse can have on a person is on their health. These impacts will vary by substance, but there will always be some sort of impact. Whether by prescription or over-the-counter, drugs of any kind come with specific instructions for use. These instructions help to minimize the impact of the side effects nearly every drug comes with. By ignoring these instructions, one is more likely to deal with the side effects from the substance they are abusing.
Additionally, drugs that are illegal are often illegal because of their effects and side effects. Substances like methamphetamine and heroin can cause numerous health complications, including a higher likelihood of developing certain diseases, developing an addiction, or overdosing.
Ignoring the legal status of a drug or the instructions for its consumption can lead to serious consequences on a person’s health, including a heightened potential for becoming comatose or even dying.
Drug Addiction and the Brain
Sadly, no matter what substance is consumed, drug abuse often leads to drug addiction. This can have a major impact on the brain. When a person develops a drug addiction, their brain is restructured to reinforce the consumption of whatever substance they are addicted to. In general, this means the brain makes a person more likely to engage in addictive behavior, forcing them to seek out immediate, usually unhealthy pleasures.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
There are many perceptions and misunderstandings held by the average American on what bipolar disorder is and is not. However, put simply, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that often causes intense mood swings. During these mood swings, a person with bipolar disorder experiences an extreme intensity of emotion or emotions.
The mood swings typically caused by bipolar disorder are often split into three categories: a manic episode, depressive episode, or mixed episode. In a manic episode, a person feels extreme elation and energy. In a depressive episode, a person feels sadness, hopelessness, or indifference. However, in a mixed episode, a person will often experience symptoms of both a manic and depressive episode, which can create some odd yet intense moods and emotions.
Types of Bipolar Disorder:
Bipolar disorder usually affects every person differently. Despite this, an individual’s bipolar disorder typically falls into one of three types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I disorder
- Bipolar II disorder
- Cyclothymic disorder
Bipolar I disorder is a form of bipolar disorder that includes manic episodes that last seven days or longer or manic symptoms that may require hospitalization. Depressive episodes are also common with this type, lasting around two weeks.
Bipolar II disorder is a type of bipolar disorder that includes more depressive episodes than manic episodes. Oftentimes, individuals with bipolar II disorder will experience hypomanic episodes, which are much less severe than manic episodes.
Cyclothymic disorder is a type of bipolar disorder that includes hypomanic and depressive symptoms, not episodes. These symptoms typically linger for around two years in adults and about a year for children and teenagers.
Can Drug Abuse Cause Bipolar Disorder?
Unfortunately, the exact cause or causes of bipolar disorder are unknown. However, researchers have identified what factors can play a role in the likelihood that a person will develop bipolar disorder. These factors can include a person’s genetics, brain structure, brain function, and environment.
Brain structure and function are two of the most relevant factors for drug abuse and bipolar disorder. Drug abuse, especially drug addiction, can have an immense impact on the structure and function of the brain. Not only does drug addiction rewire the brain’s reward system in order to encourage addictive behavior, but drug addiction can also rewire areas of the brain that impact a person’s mood and behavior. Because of this, it is possible for drug abuse and addiction to restructure the brain in a way that can lead to the development of bipolar disorder.
However, drug abuse does not always lead to bipolar disorder. In fact, the order can be reversed, and an individual’s bipolar disorder can lead to drug abuse and addiction. This is often due to the intensity of one’s mood swings and their attempts to self-medicate.
Searching for Bipolar Disorder Treatment, Drug Abuse Treatment, or Both?
If you or a loved one is living with drug addiction, bipolar disorder, or both, help is available! At Knoxville Recovery Center, our team of addiction and mental health experts offer a number of treatments and therapies that can address one or both disorders. Contact us today for more information!