If you are supporting a loved one in active addiction who also has bipolar disorder, then you have your hands full.  However, you may be making some of the mistakes that others in your position are also making.


1.      They accept unacceptable behavior

You can show support for your loved one without showing support for their addiction and also be understanding without accepting unacceptable bipolar behavior.


You need to set boundaries between what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior – what will be tolerated and not tolerated. Then you need to stick to those boundaries.  Your loved one should understand that you are there for support but that you are not a doormat, either. You want to help him and be there for him, but he must treat you with respect.


2.      They take things personally

Always remember not to take things personally. When your loved one says painful things, remember that it is the addiction and/or the bipolar disorder talking, and not your loved one. Let it bounce off you, as much as you are able.  Try remembering what your loved one was like before he became an addict or was in a bipolar episode.  Hold onto the thought that he will be that person again.


3.      They enable their loved one’s addiction

Be careful not to enable your loved one’s addiction and/or poor bipolar behavior.  This can take the form of bailing your loved one out of jail, offering housing or paying his rent, buying his gas, etc.  Unfortunately, this way your loved one keeps from hitting the bottom he needs to hit before he will get help for his addiction.


4.      They become co-dependent

A codependent relationship usually occurs when the supporter constantly sacrifices their own needs for the needs of their loved one.  This may begin as enabling – doing for the other person what they should do for themselves – or trying to "fix" them.


Do not allow yourself to become codependent. You are a supporter, not an enabler. You can’t allow your loved one to get away with things like manipulation, saying he can’t do things when he can, and not taking responsibility for his own addiction and bipolar disorder.


5.      They let their guard down

If your loved one has been in recovery for awhile and is doing well, you may let your guard down, thinking that he won't relapse.  Be careful, as you may become complacent, and he may become over-confident.  You must always stay consistent and on guard, no matter how long it's been, because active addiction and/or bipolar episodes can always come back.