It’s estimated that between 50 and 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder will at some point have problems with alcohol and/or drugs. Some studies put this number as high as 75 percent.
While the whys for this connection between bipolar disorder and chemical dependency are not completely understood, there are a number of theories that hold pieces of the puzzle.
First, we go back to genetics. Just as bipolar disorder runs in families, so too can alcohol and substance dependence.
For others, being drawn to alcohol and drugs can be viewed as part of the pleasure-seeking symptom that is often a part of mania and hypomania, just like sex, gambling, and reckless spending.
Finally, there is the very real issue of self-medication.