Alcoholism And Bipolar

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 5.7 million people in the United States have bipolar disorder. That’s 2.6 percent of the population. This is of adults, or people 18 years and older.

More than 15 million people deal with alcohol addiction every year.

A study done in 2013 found that 45 percent of people who have bipolar disorder also suffered from alcoholism.  That is nearly half of people with bipolar disorder or more than 2 million people in the United States.

Bipolar disorder alone can be a very crippling condition. It is generally known by manic or depressive episodes that can come suddenly. This means that there are extreme highs and lows.

One moment a person can be overly excited and anxious and impulsive. Then they crash down with depression or paranoia. These are very extreme mood swings that affect work or relationships.

Bipolar disorder has three different types. The first is bipolar I. Bipolar I needs hospitalization sometimes but can be different for everyone. The second is bipolar II. Bipolar II is not as harsh a condition and presents much milder. Cyclothymic is the third and is more likely to have brief moments of depression and mania.

Many people with bipolar disorder find themselves turning to alcohol. This is to help numb their emotions. Because those with bipolar disorder feel extremes they often want to numb their sadness or suicidal issues. Alcohol is used to help them cope.

Of course, alcohol is never something that should be used to self-medicate with. Bipolar disorder should be treated by a licensed professional with prescribed medications.


Research has shown that bipolar disorder and alcoholism are the most likely to cohabit a person. This means that though many people with mental illness turn to alcohol, the most common to see is bipolar alcoholics.

This is generally because of all the emotions felt from being bipolar. This is why it is important to pay attention to loved ones and make sure they get the help they need. No one should feel that they need alcohol to manage life.

Though sadly, it seems that many people turn in that direction. Don’t let your loved one’s drinking go unchecked. It can be that they are definitely overdoing it and are in need of help. If alcohol and mental illness run in your family, it is vital to be vigilant.