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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How does recreational drug use affect bipolar disorder?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 14


    Sarah Godfrey

    Counselling Psychologist, Psychologist

    Counselling Psychologist and Director /Owner of Moving Mindsets Psychology Clinic Individually Tailored Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness CBT, Solution Focused Therapy, Emotion Regulation … View Profile

    Anyone who experiences mood shifts, particularly those with a diagnosis of Bipolar Affective Disorder should be very wary of introducing drugs and alcohol into their system. Recreational drugs all have side effects and impact on the chemical stability of the brain. Introducing chemical changes can only exacerbate the mood disorder. Equally the mix of recreational drugs with prescription drugs is dangerous. Part of managing a serious psychological disorder is making choices that do not worsen the symptoms. Simplistically they can increase your mania (meaning you will be more inclined to risk take and make erroneous judgements about you safety and ability) and increase your depression (meaning coming down from drug use can be worse and have a negative impact on your ability to make safe judgements about your mental state

  • 16


    I am a consultant psychiatrist who has been in practice for over 20 years. I provide mental health care online. I have worked in public … View Profile

    Anything to do with recreational drugs is very challenging.

    They are very common in the community, yet their effects can be very unpredictable.

    Someone who has a bipolar disorder has a condition that means their mood regulation system is somwhat compromised. Episodes of depression can be very unpleasant and difficult to treat. Episodes of mood elevation can be very distressing and damaging to the person and those around them.

    Adding a recreational drug to bipolar disorder has the potential to make things very much worse.

    Unfortunately when someone is depressed using a recreation drug can seem a way to feel better, and when someone is elevated they often fail to see the risks in their actions.

    My advice for anyone with a bipolar disorder is to ensure you have a good GP and a good psychiatrist who you trust, and who fully understands you. Developing a shared recovery plan is very important. If you are thinking of using recreational drugs its really important that those who care for you know this, and its also worth discussing the risks and why you feel the need to follow this path with your treating doctors.

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