My Google Alerts have been flooded by articles about Scott Stapp, the singer of Creed, getting a bipolar diagnosis. Most of them, surprisingly, got it right, but the article published at Chinatopix raised my eyebrows.
Ms. Soledad Mayo informs us:
Creed lead singer Scott Stapp revealed to the People magazine that he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder due to drug use and that he is now undergoing therapy.
The former Creed frontman said that he had been hallucinating because of drug abuse. Scott Stapp recalled how he drove around the country for a month following an angel who was sitting on the hood of his car.
Apart from the fact that this is, in fact, not what Stapp has said, it shows a dangerous lapse in understanding what bipolar disorder is, and what it is not.
According to www.dualdiagnosis.org, 56% of people with bipolar disorder suffer(ed) from addiction to drugs or alcohol at some point. According to www.drugabuse.gov, the rate for general population (in America) is 8.9 percent.
Obviously there is something about bipolar disorder that correlates with high addiction rate. While I am not a medical professional or addiction counsellor, I will hazard a guess that bipolar makes you predisposed to addiction, not the other way round. There are some drugs that can trigger a bipolar episode (in particular marijuana and LSD), but they do not create bipolar disorder in a mentally healthy person. They may only make it manifest earlier.
There are a few obvious reasons why bipolars tend to become addicts. One of them is self-medication. I used to self-medicate my depression with alcohol for years – it seemed to be the only way to make the black dog go away for a few hours. I knew that alcohol is a depressant and on some subconscious level I probably realised that I am making things worse for myself long term, but at those times the only thing that counted was quick relief which the bottle provided. The same scenario happened daily: I’d be terribly depressed, I’d get drunk, depression would be replaced by euphoria, I would do some really stupid things, go to sleep, get up in the morning and scream “F–K!!!” (I never blacked out; I always remembered what I did the day before, and it was always terrible and make me more depressed.) Repeat. Repeat.