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While in recovery, addressing all aspects of the individual is essential. It is not enough to simply address substance use alone. This means that individuals who struggle with disorders such as bipolar disorder must ensure that the treatment they receive addresses substance use and co-occurring disorders.

Addressing bipolar disorder alongside substance use can help individuals find lasting recovery. It allows them to learn more about themselves and their disorder in a way that shows them they do not need substances in order to live with bipolar disorder. 

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder is defined as “A mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” Those with bipolar disorder can experience varying degrees of shifts in their emotions. These shifts can prove to be significantly disruptive to an individual’s daily life. 

Although most individuals will experience similar, general effects from their bipolar disorder, there are three different kinds of bipolar disorders that cause their own separate effects. As explained by the NIMH, these different kinds of bipolar disorders are as follows:

  • Bipolar I disorder: This type of bipolar disorder is defined by manic episodes that can last a week typically, and are incredibly intense. Those with bipolar I also experience depressive episodes that can last about two weeks, depending on the individual. 
  • Bipolar II disorder: Rather than being defined by intense mania, bipolar II disorder is characterized by repeated depressive episodes. Individuals with this disorder also experience mani, but not to the degree that is experienced by those with bipolar disorder I.
  • Cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia): When experiencing cyclothymic disorder, individuals experience roughly two years of the effects of both manic and depressive episodes. 

It is vital that individuals are able to identify and understand which kind of bipolar disorder they have, especially while in treatment for substance use. That way, individuals can begin learning how to manage their side effects while living a life filled with peace and personal growth.

How To Manage The Effects While in Recovery

Recovery is riddled with daily challenges. Even though living a life in recovery is worth the trials and tribulations, the struggles individuals must face can become overwhelming. If a person is struggling with bipolar disorder on top of these struggles, managing recovery will become that much harder.

If an individual can identify their diagnosis, this makes it possible for them to begin understanding how to manage their side effects while in recovery. Below are some ways individuals can manage the effects of their bipolar disorder:

Grounding Exercises

To help separate from their emotions, individuals with bipolar disorder can practice using grounding techniques to reconnect with themselves and the present moment. By learning to separate from their emotions, individuals can allow their emotions to come and go freely while maintaining a connection to their true selves. This allows them to live their lives in a much more peaceful and functional way. Some common grounding techniques include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Acupressure


No matter what type of bipolar disorder an individual has, getting regular exercise can prove to be significantly beneficial in mitigating unwanted side effects. Exercise can allow individuals to work out extra energy, help them get regular and consistent sleep, and boost moods. Getting exercise does not have to mean doing repetitive motions at a gym. Some fun, personalized ways individuals can begin getting active include doing the following:

  • Dancing
  • Tai chi
  • Sports
  • Going on walks at a nature site
  • Running or walking a marathon
  • Swimming
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Rollerblading or rollerskating
  • Skateboarding
  • Surfing
  • Kayaking

Reach Out to Trusted Professionals

The best thing that individuals can do to help manage their bipolar disorders while in recovery is to find licensed professionals to talk to about their struggles. These individuals can include case managers, therapists, and psychologists, just to name a few. 

It is advisable to find a recovery program that will address both substance use and co-occurring disorders, such as bipolar disorder. When prioritizing both of these conditions, individuals will be rest assured that nothing goes untreated. This way, individuals will have a team of people that understand their unique needs and are able to provide them with a wide range of care. Doing so will ensure that individuals are equipt with the specific tools and knowledge they need in order to successfully navigate recovery while living with bipolar disorder. Recovery is not easy, but it is always possible and achievable with the right kind of care. 

Being able to navigate your symptoms of bipolar disorder during recovery is incredibly important. The three types of bipolar disorders include bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder. To try managing the various effects you may have from one of these disorders, you can try grounding exercises, engaging in physical exercise, and reaching out to trusted professionals for continued care. Recovery is difficult as it is. That is why it is so important to find treatment at a facility that treats co-occurring disorders such as bipolar disorder. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we make it a priority to treat the whole individual. This means that we address and treat co-occurring disorders so that you can find lasting relief and learn effective ways to live with your disorder while navigating recovery. You do not have to go through this alone. Reach out today at (760) 492-6509.

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