Self-medicating

by Rebecca
(Charlotte, nc)

I'm confused about something - my adolescent son has stated he started drinking because it helps him think clearer when he is manic. Taking lithium but he's still cycling rapidly. This says it makes them more manic. Is it just the fact that alcohol is a depressant so it brings him down when he's manic?

I'd appreciate if someone could clarify that. Alcoholism certainly doesn't come from me because I never drink.


HI Rebecca

I would suggest that perhaps your son is not stable on his lithium if he is still cycling in that manner. People who are bipolar very frequently will use drugs and alcohol to self medicate because the intensity of the emotions they feel is so extreme, and they also often report that they are so extremely overwhelmed that the drugs and alcohol really help them feel more in control. It probably does take the edge off his mania but obviously that is not a safe way to control his mania.



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