Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment Options

Types, Causes, & Treatments

Addiction continues to rank among the most stigmatized and least understood of the classified mental health disorders. Much of this stigma is, in part, due to the negative symptoms associated with addictive disorders.

For many of us who have personally known someone with such a disorder, we have experienced the pain of being lied to, yelled at, ignored, stolen from, and having to slowly—or even rapidly—watch our loved one deteriorate. When our emotions become involved, it is easy to see only the negative and ignore what is truly happening to this individual. Emotion trumps logic, and we begin to view this person as someone morally deficient.

For the many of us personally dealing with addiction, we may experience feelings of denial, grief, and shame. Without viewing the addiction objectively—as the physiological illness that it is—we will never be able to fully understand it.


What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder whose core feature is a disturbance in mood. The hallmark feature of the diagnosis is mania. Mania is a dysregulated form of mood instability where an individual can feel extreme elation with accompanying disturbances in thinking and behavior. While depression may be present, it is not necessary for a diagnosis. What is needed for a diagnosis is at least one lifetime manic episode. The peak age at onset of bipolar I disorder across studies is between 20 and 30 years, but onset occurs throughout the life cycle.

Types & Symptoms of Addiction


Causes of Addiction & Contributing Factors

Mental illness is not someone’s “choice.” We wouldn’t accuse someone of choosing to have schizophrenia. Rather, we recognize that there is an imbalance in the brain that has led toward the disorder. Similarly, one does not “choose” to be an addict. Although the person may have made the choice to begin using substances in the first place, nobody says, “My goal in life was to become an addict.” So, what goes wrong with such individuals?

There are six important contextual factors that can help explain how the addiction began, what needs it satisfies, and how it has negatively impacted the life of the person suffering from addiction

  1. Expectations of use (e.g., relaxation, better social interactions, sleeping better, etc.)
  2. Internal triggers for use (e.g., emotions, thoughts, withdrawal, craving, etc.)
  3. External triggers for use (e.g., people, places, seeing needles, music, etc.)
  4. Immediate reinforcers (e.g., escaping or feeling relaxed or high)
  5. Positive aspects of use (e.g., make friends, be “cool,” feel good, etc.)
  6. Negative aspects of use (e.g., expense, hangover, interpersonal problems, etc.)

In addition to these contextual factors, causes of addiction may be explained by biology/physiology, physical illness and/or disability, social factors, and personal psychology.


Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Changing Persons, Places, and Things
A common saying used by addictions counselors to clients is that they need a change of “persons, places, and things.” Ideally, this change of environment will help maximize the client’s likelihood of success. Simple examples of this may entail encouraging a client who lives with his drug buddies to move into a sober living environment. For a gambler this may entail removing oneself from the casinos. While this logic may seem quite straightforward, complications may occur in the event of someone who works where the addiction is most pronounced, such as an alcoholic who works at a bar. Regardless, the more work that is done to change these domains and replace them with the appropriate support, the more likely it is that the client may undergo the appropriate lifestyle change.
Support Groups
Support groups are also a great means of assisting people living with addiction. Support groups offer people the opportunity to work with others who have lived similar life experiences. The power of such support results from comradery and from not feeling alone with one’s addiction.
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