Substance Addictions: Street Drugs
In my experience Cannabis was the leading street drug abused by bipolar sufferers I came into contact with, Cocaine being the second. Many of the younger generation of bipolar sufferers were using drugs such as Methamphetamine and Ecstasy, but these drugs still did not overshadow the prevalent use of Cannabis.
- Intensified mania
- Drug might be laced/mixed with other agents that can cause severe affects on the brain or death
- Agitation/Worsened Anxiety/Panic Attacks
- Increased Hallucinations
- Further alienation from society brought about by anti-social behavior due to drug use.
- Intensified Depression
- Use of one or two of the drugs may cause the sufferer to lash out in fits of rage or violence due to its intensifying effect on their disease.
- Brain damage causing further psychiatric disorders
- Memory lapses
- Impairs reason/Comprehension of Consequences
I cannot imagine what the use of any of these drugs would do to a person while they were also ingesting bipolar medications, since I never used street drugs when taking my meds. I can only guess the situation would be one of dire consequences and very destructive to a person’s central nervous system.
- Benzodiazepines: Sedatives, Sleeping pills, Anxiety Medications
- Pain Medications
Although these medications are becoming increasingly more controlled and more difficult to abuse, they are still widely used as a substance for addictive personalities to take advantage of. Even if the person is not an addict in the beginning these medications are highly seductive in nature and can quickly catch a person unawares in a cycle of addiction. I have known quite a few bipolar sufferers who have been caught in the trap these meds have set of crippling dependence. It is highly recommended when using these medications that a person should strive to closely follow a physician’s directions and not self-medicate at any cost. Some of us must use these medications for an extended period of time, but for those of us who don’t have too; it is recommended that a person not prolong the prescribed use of these drugs more than the needed length of time. Now, not everyone taking these medications will become addicted to them and I don’t want to scare people from taking them. They serve a very important purpose for people who need their assistance and these medications should be given their due respect. Just be careful not to let them get the best of you.
Some Possible Side Effects of Prescription Drug Addiction:
- The Benzodiazepines will not be effective for anxiety or sleep anymore if one over-medicates or takes for prolonged periods of time.
- The prolonged use of or over-medicating will cause the sufferer to have to consume more of the drug to be effective.
- Chronic consumption of high doses of some pain meds can have negative effects on your internal organs, i.e.: stomach lining, kidneys, liver.
- High doses of Benzodiazepines can cause black-outs and some periodic memory loss.
- Slurred speech/appearance of drunkenness
- Can cause greater agitation when drug doesn’t seem to work as well anymore, can in some cases increase panic attacks.
- Binge Drinking/Drinking to Enable One to Socialize
- Chronic Drinking
Out of all the substances to be exploited by an addictive personality alcohol is probably one of the easiest to be accessed and to be consumed. And, sadly, when a person is seeking a way to obliterate the pain or misery of mental illness it is the most often abused. Alcoholism affects all levels and most ages of society, it has no prejudices. Even if a person does not drink every day, but once in a while, if he/she seeks alcohol to rid himself/herself of the awkward burdens of life, there is a problem.
Some Possible Side Effects of Alcohol Addiction:
- Increase of anti-social behavior/alienation
- Liver Damage
- Increased Depression/Agitation
- Alcohol can cause dangerous complications with bipolar medications.
- Mood Swings
- Black-outs and memory lapses
- Impairs thought processes and ability to reason
The time I spent on the various psyche wards gave me first hand knowledge of exactly how high the percentage of their populations were that were smokers compared to those that were not. Judging from my observations of fellow patients in hospital and also from contact with those I have known outside the ward as well, smoking is a very common vice among bipolar sufferers. And, besides, smoking is the one big distraction a person has in a psyche ward. Usually when a patient smokes they are permitted to go outside, away from the ward for a short time, a momentary break in the monotony of hospital life. Nicotine is very addictive and extremely hard to quit for some people.
Some Possible Side Effects of Nicotine:
- False Sense of Wellbeing
- Second hand smoke may harm others
- Gum Disease of the Mouth
The following list of addictions is strictly based on my personal opinions and is not founded on any medical studies. The list described here can be classified as symptomatic behavior of mental illness rather than addictions; I choose to include them here because I have found that they continue to be habitual activities in bipolar sufferer’s lives even during mentally stable periods. The people indulging in these behaviors are doing so because they have developed dependence for such activities and the emotional responses elicited from them. This list does not apply to all bipolar sufferers as a whole.
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