Substance abuse and mental disorders are interdependent to such an extent that one leads to the other. The involvement of substances while grappling the challenges of a mental disorder is often seen as a common affair. Likewise, people afflicted with bipolar disorder are frequently struggling with substance abuse and dependence.
According to the Epidemiologic Catchment Area study, 46 percent of patients struggling with bipolar disorder reported a lifetime history of an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and nearly 41 percent of them had a history of abusing other drugs. With the increased emphasis on the legalization of medicinal marijuana, a number of conflicting reports have come up. While some believe that marijuana can decrease mood swings witnessed in the case of bipolar disorder, others think that it can worsen the symptoms. Amid such conflicting reports, a number of people with bipolar disorder turn to marijuana to alleviate emotional highs and lows.
Among people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, marijuana has been distinguished as a favorite substance of abuse, mirroring the relative increase in the rate of marijuana abuse. Some of the studies have drawn attention to the exponential rise of cannabis use compared to drinking among people with bipolar disorder, particularly young adults. While a large body of research has been carried out on AUD among people with bipolar disorder, little has been done on the effects of cannabis. The rise has been primarily due to the notion that cannabis may actually be helpful in stabilizing mood among the patients with BD, as discussed above.
In contrast, few of the published systematic studies have summarized that drug abuse in general and cannabis abuse in particular are associated with poor treatment adherence, severity of mania, and negative consequences of the disorder. Comorbidity impacts not only the clinical presentation and outcome, but also affects one’s treatment due to the higher use of health services and greater functional impairment.
Extent of cannabis use disorder in bipolar disorder
While individuals living with a mental illness are vulnerable to developing an addiction to narcotic substances, people with bipolar disorder are particularly at risk of developing an affinity for cannabis that often results in cannabis use disorder (CUD).
In a survey of 43,070 respondents aged 18 and above, lead author Lev-Ran along with other researchers found that compared to people with or without any mental illness, the rates of marijuana use and CUD among patients with bipolar disorder were highly variable and have seen an upsurge among people diagnosed with BD-I.
Impacts of cannabis on bipolar disorder patients
Many researchers have highlighted that marijuana use leads to an earlier onset of bipolar disorder, prolonged or worsened manic episodes, and increased suicidal tendencies. Some other functional impairments include increased disability, poorer global functioning, etc.
An Australian investigation found that pot use is associated with the diminished probability of long-term recovery from bipolar disorder. Surprisingly, the association between marijuana use and bipolar disorder is dependent upon one’s gender and the type of drug used. Marijuana use, in particular, was related to bringing down the remission rates for the symptoms of depression in women and mania in men.
Furthermore, it was assessed that marijuana use reduces the effectiveness of the medication used for treating bipolar disorder and other mental conditions. While the level of reduction in depressive symptoms was lower in cannabis users who were prescribed mind stabilizers alone; the reduction rate for manic symptoms was lower in cannabis users who were prescribed olanzapine. Therefore, cannabis use among those with bipolar disorder is related to poor treatment outcomes, including increased depressive and psychotic symptoms, low compliance, rapid cycling, etc.
Treatment is just a call away
Co-occurring disorders like bipolar disorder and CUD can be treated using a supportive detoxification program, behavioral therapies and medication. In the absence of appropriate and effective treatment for the above coexisting disorders, patients witness numerous challenges that may affect their life, work and relationships. Dual diagnosis is a serious condition that requires proper medical attention. Moreover, treatment of one condition cannot be successful without addressing the other.
People looking for information on dual diagnosis, including details about the dual diagnosis treatment centers in California and drug rehab centers in southern California, can contact the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline. Alternatively, call at our 24/7 helpline 855-980-1736 or join our representatives for a live chat.