You may find that the person uses alcohol or street drugs to try to improve their mood, but these substances make bipolar disorder and its consequences worse. They result in ongoing bipolar symptoms, more frequent relapse and hospitalization. This can affect the person and families’ quality of life.
Alcohol and other drug problems need to be treated in their own right and the person’s clinician may be able to assist with treatment or recommendations. If the person is physically addicted to a certain substance, they may need medical assistance to break this habit. It can be very difficult to reduce or stop an alcohol or drug habit and some people try many times before managing to do so. Some organisations provide information and support for people and families affected by alcohol or other drug problems or ‘dual diagnosis’ (i.e. when a person has alcohol or other drug problems with another disorder like bipolar disorder). Here are some links to drug and alcohol services.