Meth Use or Bipolar Disorder?
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Q:  Meth Use or Bipolar Disorder?

Hello Dr.Phelps,
My husband has not been formally diagnosed but I do have a question.  I have been thinking that he was actually doing Meth because of certain behaviors he shows. Recently I confronted him and was ready for him to get out of the house, he told me that he isn't doing drugs and that he has always been this way (we are newly married). Now I'm confused, at first I did think he must be ADD or something of the sort.

My husband stays up for days on end without any sleep and then one or two days he will sleep all day and night. Responsibility doesn't seem to be high on his priority list, he forgets many things and I have to constantly remind him to pay bills and do normal daily activities. Staying with a job seems to be more of an effort than normal and recently he has been working on a regular basis but has put out many resumes for more work, which he seems elated about. He has a heavy sex drive and often wants to watch porn. He has an addiction to online poker and word games (these go on all night).  He is hyper sensitive to things like emtional feelings and sounds, sometimes temperature.

I guess my main question is- is meth use often confused for someone with bipolar?

Thank you for your time,

Dear Carla -- 
Oh yes, this is a huge problem, trying to tell apart Meth use and bipolar disorder.  Sometimes the only way we really know is when we see symptoms persist inside a locked hospital unit with pretty good security (not too much risk of Meth getting on the unit), days after the person is admitted. Another way would be if they get in legal trouble, have to have urine drug screens, and then while having "negative screens" (no meth in the urine) the symptoms are still there.  Sorry to hear this is happening for you.  You could try to get your own therapist to have some help and guidance as you try to figure this out.  If he would go with you to a marriage counselor, that is even more direct as a way of getting someone else involved in the diagnostic process. Few spouses with this kind of story would consent to getting their own therapist, but if he would, that would be ideal.  Then you can pump information from your own observations to that therapist, and let her and your husband deal with the diagnosis process, taking you off the hook.  If this persists you might consider (especially if you can't afford or find your own therapist) Al-Anon, if there is one available in your area. Sometimes these groups are very helpful, sometimes not.  Another important source would be your church, if you have one, where you could ask for someone to talk to and perhaps even for some help with the marriage.  You can see the emphasis is on getting some help. One of his relatives, perhaps, as another possible source with perhaps some additional insight into this problem.  And finally, there are your relatives (I hope, if you have one and she/his is close enough) to fall back on for support. You're in a very tough position.  Good luck with all that. 

Dr. Phelps

Published September, 2005


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