My Story of Highs (and Lows) and Finding Recovery from Addiction

My ongoing drug induced mania and eventual diagnosis of bipolar disorder has certainly been a rollercoaster. I completely destroyed my life due to my drug addiction and manic episodes. I feel fortunate to be here to relay my experience and hope that it helps if you or someone you care about are experiencing the same.

I suffered for years with these conditions and was only able to make something of myself following an extended stay at South Shores Recovery. The ‘Shores are consistently known as one of the better facilities for patients in substance abuse recovery, and they helped me get my life back from drug-induced mania and the rollercoaster ride my life had become

My bipolar disorder went undiagnosed for years. Starting as a teenager, I began abusing prescription medication and alcohol. This slowly turned into a full-blown opiate addiction. Substance use disorder is difficult enough to get over, it’s even more tricky when coupled with mental health issues. But it is possible, and I am living proof.

Keep reading to learn more about my story with bipolar and manic episodes, and how I finally found (and accepted) help from South Shores in Southern California.

Substance Abuse and Mood Disorders Were Close Companions

Drug addiction and mental health problems are often co-occuring disorders. It’s very common for those suffering from a mental health problem or illness to turn to drugs. In some cases, drug abuse can cause or further worsen mental health problems. My mood disorder made it very difficult for me to seek treatment, but I finally decided to make the leap once I hit rock bottom.

Upon arriving at South Shores, my depressive symptoms and drug induced mania were off the charts. The detox was brutal, and their dual diagnosis treatment approach was hard, but I gave it everything I had. I knew that if I didn’t make it work, I would be dead or institutionalized.

No matter what level of your addiction and mental illness, recovery is possible. Never lose hope.

Drug Induced Bipolar Disorder: I Just Called It Life

Drug Induced Bipolar Disorder

I had a rough upbringing and turned to drugs and alcohol as soon as I was introduced to them. Getting high and drunk was the only escape I had from my home life. Mental illness runs in my family, so there were always issues. There never seemed to be any peace in our household. Bipolar disorder runs in my family, going back several generations.

Once I fell into substance abuse, I began to have manic episodes. I would go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. If I didn’t have drugs or alcohol on hand, things would be even worse. As a result of my behavior, it was hard for me to lead any kind of normal life. I dropped out of high school and began dealing drugs to support myself. I got off to the very worst start in life.

The Lowest Lows of Depressive Episodes

Unless you’ve experienced depression, it can be hard to explain to people. It’s an all-consuming feeling. There were times when I couldn’t get out of bed. My mood changes were crippling. If I fell into a depressive episode, it would usually take several days to get out. I never experienced any medium.

I was either on top of the world or talking myself out of self-harm. It got so dark that it began to affect my loved one’s mental health.

No one knew what to do with me. If I was in an elevated mood, I knew it was only a matter of time before the switch. My diagnosis of bipolar disorder didn’t come until I was years into my addiction to illegal drugs. I lived in a constant state of drug induced psychosis or mania.

The lines of reality were constantly blurring. My lifestyle was simply exhausting. I knew I had a major problem, but addiction, high doses of cocaine, and depression were all I ever knew. How would I ever dig myself out? In my case, it was going to take a major event to wake me up.

Which Drugs Can Cause Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder

No matter what substances you are abusing, they all affect brain chemistry. If you are pre-disposed to certain mental health conditions, certain drugs can bring them out. In some cases, drug users can exhibit symptoms that mimic mood disorders, even if you aren’t actually suffering from them.

Alcohol, hallucinogens, antidepressants, marijuana in various forms, pain medications, and many stimulant prescription medications are just a few of the substances that can induce bipolar disorder and bipolar symptoms. The manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder are as intense as you could imagine. They come out of nowhere and are very difficult to control or predict.

Soaring Through the Strange Skys of a Manic Episode

The symptoms and onset of a manic episode may vary but often include insomnia, elevated mood, rapid speech, delusions of grandeur, and irritability. My manic symptoms were often the result of my drug and alcohol use. My brain chemistry was constantly disrupted.

One moment I would be looking through a magazine like Forbes and circling the types of private jet I wanted, and the next I would be talking about the strange prevalence of black helicopters in my city, and how it always seemed like they were following me. (And I wasn’t Henry Hill, though maybe I did watch Goodfellas a few too many times!)

Drug-induced mania that caused symptoms like this was simply an everyday situation for me. I was an exhausting person to be around. Eventually, I found myself completely alone, with no support system and essentially disabled.

Surviving the Storms of Drug Induced Mania

When you are living your life in between intense highs and crippling lows, you don’t know where to turn. Survival becomes a chore. There is evidence there is a high suicide rate associated with bipolar disorder, as well as with cyclothymic disorder, a milder form that I learned about in treatment.

Even with medication and a healthy lifestyle, you have to learn how to manage the symptoms. When you are engaged in substance abuse, controlling how you react during manic episodes is very difficult.

I had a knee-jerk reaction to everything. I was totally unable to think before I acted. This got me into a lot of legal trouble. I once assaulted an officer during an arrest while I was still waiting for a different court date. The idea of being arrested coupled with having my drugs taken away made me violent.

After a number of run-ins with the law, I was given the option of recovery. It was either that or face a lengthy jail sentence.

Choosing Recovery Over the Thrill Ride

My mental health became far too much for me to handle. I had burned every bridge. My relationship with my own family members was non-existent. Family therapy was simply impossible with my volatility, They tried for years to help me but were consistently disappointed. I stole money from them and lied about my substance abuse.

Eventually, they had to cut me off. When they quit enabling me and I was on my own, things got really tough.

I knew I needed help, I just didn’t think I could get it. My low self-esteem coupled with my bipolar disorder led me to believe I could never get better. I finally accepted help and started to entertain the idea of sobriety. It didn’t seem so scary once it became a recurring thought. When I arrived at South Shores, I knew it was going to be an uphill battle.

Trusting the Process of Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual-diagnosis Treatment Plan

Because I had bipolar disorders and other co-occurring disorders, I required a dual-diagnosis treatment plan. South Shores offered an incredible dual-diagnoses program and were able to help me finally address my bipolar disorder that had been left untreated. Once I realized that I had bipolar disorder, things began to make more sense. I finally had a name for what I was struggling with, and a plan to maintain it.

As I worked my way through withdrawal and the initial recovery process, I started to think more rationally. I didn’t recognize the person I was. Once the drugs were out of my system, I slowly took steps to make sure that I didn’t go back to my old ways. I was prescribed the correct medication for my disorder, and I began to notice the difference right away.

Living Successfully with Bipolar Disorder

When you have a mental illness, it takes a lot of self-work to keep yourself grounded. I notice that when I am not focusing on my mental health, the more I regress and relapse. I relapsed once after treatment, but at the moment am eight months sober.

My sobriety revolves around making sure I take my medication, and thinking before I act, as well as reaching out to my supports and the people I have found who care about my health and well-being.

Getting Support for Lasting Sobriety and Health at South Shores

I work very hard on my emotions and the way that I react to certain situations. I don’t get it right every time, but I’ve made huge strides. I have a lot more confidence in myself these days because I know how much work I’ve already put in.

Because of the efforts I put in at the facilities of South Shores Recovery, I am in the best position to succeed personally and be there for my peers as well. And it also puts me in a great place to recommend the staff at South Shores if you or someone you love has a story similar to mine. Give yourself a fighting chance and pick up the phone to get options with their programs today!