The Relationahip Between Bipolar Disorder and Chemical Addiction

Yes, this is another one of those blog posts o’ mine that takes you to an article I’ve written on Yahoo! Voices or another site I write for.  I don’t get paid for this site but I do get paid (sometimes) for page views.  Hey — Prozac ain’t free.  Anyway, here’s the link.

Although this article focused on bipolar patients that also abused drugs or alcohol, you could also swap “bipolar disorder” for “anxiety disorder” or “major depression.”  Alcohol and drugs (and, for some people, food) seem like cheap alternatives to prescription meds and therapy.  At first, the booze and drugs seem to help quell the nastier of the side effects, such as insomnia, fears or having to deal with difficult people without blowing anyone’s head off with a shotgun.

But over time, they wind up becoming more problematic than the symptoms they were trying to cure. It is true that your body becomes dependent on many types of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, but that’s not quite the same thing as being a hard-core alcoholic or crackhead.  With a doctor’s supervision and by cutting back gradually on your psych meds, you can wean your body off of the medication.  Drug addicts and alcoholics don’t have the “cut back gradually” option.  It’s either go cold turkey or get plastered and not much else in between.

Never go cold turkey off of psych meds because the withdrawal symptoms can be painful. Sometimes, if you have only been taking the medication for less than two weeks, you can suddenly stop.   Always talk to your doctor or therapist first before stopping any medication.  Remember that it’s not a sign of moral weakness to take psych meds.

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