A Taste for Oblivion – Addictions and Mental Health

I find it of extreme import to preface this article by stating that the information found herein cannot be substantiated by formal medical references obtained from professionals involved in research fields concerning these areas of study, medical journals, or by practicing psychiatric practitioners.  All statements are entirely based on the summation of my own opinions gleaned from independent study, readings, and research; along with conclusions founded on personal life experiences that have come from intimate contact with other bipolar sufferers.

The dictionary defines addiction as:  Addiction- n.

1. Compulsive physiological and psychological need  for a habit forming  substance. 2.  Habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice beyond one’s voluntary control.

  • The first description is the classic textbook definition for what we as a society understand as addiction. We typically tend to zero in on the culprit for the cause of any form of addiction as being an offending substance.  But, it is very important to focus on the second definition as closely as the first; it sights a substance or a practice.  That is right; a practice is included as a possible addiction.  This is very important to remember, especially when dealing with bipolar sufferers and addiction. We will treat this subject more extensively further on in this article

There is a fascinating fact that I have discovered due to my own independent research into bipolar disorder, through personal interaction with fellow sufferers and introspection upon my own struggles.  What I have come to believe is personalities with this disease have an extremely high predisposition for addictive tendencies.  It seems a significant percentage of the bipolar population will experience some form of dependency in their lifetime.  I find this of particular interest because of my personal life experience, my own past struggles with addictions and that old carnal pull of adrenaline pumping high risk life situations that seems to resurface during my manias.  Now, I must interject that it has been eleven years since I have been involved with any such substances or have exposed myself to environments that may cause me to relapse.  But, I must still be ever vigilant, those addictive tendencies may lie dormant, but they never die.

I have to stress that it is not only substances that these personalities seek out for highs, but also life situations, some of which may pose serious risks to a person’s wellbeing. Adrenaline can prove to be a powerful high and for some personalities potently addictive.  I am not only going to address the traditionally viewed afflictions of the subject of addiction, but I will also focus on what I believe to be particularly common habitual behavior suffered by bipolar personalities, such as; money spending, obsessive behavior, sexual addiction, and adrenaline addiction.Now, please don’t mistake my inferences as making a vast sweeping statement that all bipolar sufferers are drug addicts or adrenaline crazed maniacs.  I am merely stating that personalities suffering bipolar disorder can be obsessively drawn towards life situations/substances that can turn into addictions because of an internal need that their disease seems to trigger (and feed).  I would almost go so far as to suggest that it seems as if the addictive personality type is a facet of the bipolar psyche.  Many of the bipolar personalities I have come into contact with have displayed classic addictive tendencies, such as; escapist coping mechanisms, low self-esteem, depressive states, immature personalities, unrealistic views of society, dysfunctional social skills or anti-social behavior, dynamic personalities, obsessive/preoccupation with self and/or addiction, compulsive nature, thrill seeking.  And when they, or me for that matter, have fixated on something or someone, there is nothing that will stand in the way of that “fix”.

  • As a brief note:  I have met bipolar sufferers who are not plagued by addictions and seem for all appearances sake to have escaped the sickly draw of these negative tendencies.  The sad truth, however, is they are far outnumbered by the sufferers that I have come into contact with who unfortunately possess the more common addictive personality traits.

I have read several journals on bipolar disorder with relation to the subject of addiction and all of them have only proved to solidify my suspicions that this disease leaves its victims completely vulnerable to the predation of dependency.  An example of this is found in an article from Psychology Today that states female bipolar sufferers are seven times more susceptible to alcohol addiction than non-bipolar females and male bipolar sufferers are three times more susceptible than non-bipolar males.  These numbers, when I take stock of all the people I personally know who suffer from this disorder, I must confess, seem not that far off base to me.  What these statistics don’t disclose by their figures is the numbers of sufferers who have been able to successfully rehabilitate themselves and beat their addictions.  While there are many bipolar sufferers who fall prey to addictions, there are many who are able to crawl out of the abyss of substance abuse and live a clean sober life even with the cumbersome chain of an addictive personality wrapped around their necks.

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