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teen bipolar disorder

Connections: The link between bipolar disorder in teens and substance use issues

Bipolar disorder is a condition characterized by sudden and dramatic shifts in mood, behavior and energy levels. The National Institute of Health reports that 2.5 percent of young people fit the clinically stated criteria for bipolar disorder; with 2 percent of young teens reporting bipolar symptoms, and 3.1 percent of older teens displaying similar symptoms.

About 56 percent of those with bipolar symptoms experience drug or alcohol addiction at some point in their lives.

How to Help Your Teen

If your teen is struggling with the imposing and crippling dual addictions of bipolar disorder and substance abuse, here are just a few ways you can help:

  1. Express care and understanding. Let your teen know that you understand the reason behind their substance abuse; that they are not taking or using drugs for fun, but because they are trying to cope with the sometimes severe symptoms of a life-altering bipolar condition.
  2. Seek out a therapist who specializes in both bipolar disorder and substance abuse. The extreme mood shifts associated with bipolar disorder can make it difficult for a patient to successfully complete an addiction recovery program. Find a mental health professional skilled in treating both conditions. It may help to mention if your teen has been abusing marijuana.
  3. Be mindful of your child’s activities and social circle. Be sure you know as to where your teen is at all times, and that their core friendship group is filled with positive and supportive influences.
  4. Keep your home clean and clear. Make sure that no drugs, alcohol, or even over the counter drugs used to create illegal variants are present in your home. In that way, you will be enabling your addicted teen to steer clear of temptation.
  5. Regulate your teen’s sleeping and eating schedules. In their particularly manic periods, bipolar patients might feel that they don’t need as much sleep or food to function. And in order to stay alert for longer periods of time, they might opt to ingest more substances. Help combat this problem by ensuring that your teen goes to bed at preappointed times, and that they eat three full meals per day.

Working as a team with your teen and their therapist, you can defeat and overcame anything; even a dreaded dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and substance abuse addiction.

How Kokua Recovery Can Help

Kokua Recovery is a residential program specifically designed to help teens struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges such as substance use and bipolar disorder. Contact us to learn how we can help your teen get help from co-occurring disorders.

Ken Huey

Upon graduating from Purdue with a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy, Dr. Huey worked as a therapist, Clinical Director, and Business Development Director in residential treatment. Dr. Huey was always drawn to the large population of adoptees in residential treatment (he is adopted himself). He ultimately became convinced that this population needed specialty care and in November of 2006, Dr. Huey founded Calo. Calo grew to a 200 plus employee organization with about the same numbers of teen clients served each year. He sold Calo and retired in June of 2015. He came out of retirement in 2017 and founded Kokua Recovery, trauma-informed residential drug and alcohol treatment with sites in Colorado.

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