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How Can I Help My Alcoholic Unmedicated Bipolar Girlfriend?


My girlfriend is bipolar, and displays the symptoms of cycling. I am not sure if it is more than four times a year, but I believe that may be the case. She also drinks one bottle of wine or up to half a liter of Bacardi when drinking at home. Socially she will drink from lunch time to midnight and two o-clock in the morning although at a fairly steady pace that increases in intensity when severely depressed. Her diet is spartan and I believe her energy levels are low. She believes that level of drink is normal for her age, I do remember I did drink heavily in my early forties. She takes no medication for as a student at the age of forty plus, with the tuition fees, cannot afford to obtain them on a regular basis. She is highly intelligent. Her mania I believe does occur complementary to her depresion. When drinking socially sometimes she will pass out, usually in the depressed state. When having a lot to much to drink she suffers complete loss of memory and errors of judgment, that make her situation worse. What advice can you offer me in order to help her, other than the obvious. Will her present lifestyle worsen her condition. Her several previous relationships foundered, however we both have that special feeling that few people will ever have, we are soul mates and share that rare gift people seek all their lives. I know that I must work hard to protect the gift we share together. I look forward to your advice.

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I had to pass this one by Dr. Dombeck to get a proper response. He confirmed what I had originally thought. Here is what he had to say. “Your girlfriend would appear to be quite ill. Drinking at the described level (daily) she is very probably alcoholic as well as having to deal with her bipolar condition. This type of situation is called “dual diagnosis”. Her continued drinking will almost certainly make her bipolar illness worse. It is also very unwise for her to not be medicated. It is much more important in the scheme of things for her to have medication to remain stable than for her to pay tuition costs. The things to do are to get her into a detoxification treatment for alcoholism as soon as is possible, and then get her to attend AA sessions a few times per week. When she comes home, get all the alcohol out of the house. It will also be critical for her to see her Psychiatrist and get back on her medicines. If your community has any “dual diagnosis” AA meetings these would be the best ones to attend. AA people are funny about medicines sometimes. They don’t always make proper distinctions between medically necessary medicines and drugs/alcohol.” We hope this advice will help you.

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  • Sally

    I have an alcoholic husband with bipolar who went off antidepressants six months ago. He has never been properly diagnosed and refuses to get help. He is so up and down it's like living with Jeckyl & Hyde. Whenever he drinks he verbally abuses me and within the last six months has assaulted me resulting in him being charged. Two weeks ago he had a heartattack and discharged himself from hospital. He did follow up an appointment and has now been told that he has high blood pressure which requres medication for the rest of his life along with a few other things, but the Doctor told him that he would be dead within 12 months if he doesn't stop drinking (he is 33 yrs of age). He stopped drinking for five days and is now back to drinking heavily and not taking his blood pressure medication. He will not make an appointment with the doctor and he will not let me support him. We have two young children 3 & 5 which are starting to notice the mood swings, abuse and everything else that goes with it. please help me in getting him to go and get professional help and counselling. I can't take it anymore.

  • JR

    I commiserate. I was, to a considerable extent, That Husband - although I did not acually have the heart attack (the blood pressure was impressive, however), and I have never assaulted anyone physically. It is shocking that your husband has reached this point in his early thirties I was shocked enough to have got close to it in my early fifties.

    One thing seems clear - he needs to get his system clear of alcohol and the immediate secondary effects of the Evil Spirit, before he can appraise his (obviously serious) range of connected problems with something approximating to a properly functioning mind. Actually, five days "off" would not have been at all bad as a start - I am convinced (from bitter personal experience) that getting the first few clear days is a monumental problem for most addicts - after that, you have a chance five days seems, well, hopeful.) On the other hand - "I'll quit tomorrow" is a daily death sentence pronounced on oneself.

    I am not clear as to the legal position where you are but - would voluntary (or indeed mandatory) committal to an addiction treatment facility be possible? Believe me, I am not by any means an enthusiast for treatment facilities, at least to the extent that so many of them espouse the dominant Alcoholics Anonymous/12 Step model of rehabilitation. However, a period "in residence" would at least provide your husband with a safe environment to detox from the Evil Spirit, a process that can be physically dangerous and even fatal in some cases (again, Been There). I am perfectly convinced that this "first step" (not to be confused with the AA "First Step") is essential if a person is to recover. It is , however, all down to him in the end. If he is really, really deterimned to commit suicide-by-bottle, well, he will. Hopefully, his five-day remission suggests that he is still open to taking a road back - whichever such road he eventually takes.

    Bless you, bless you both, and bless your family,

    and Best regards,


  • Maxine

    I have a friend who was addicted to drugs for several years and then had an abusive partner who she could only tolerate when on drugs. She is now medicated but i feel she is worse on tamazepen than on cannibis. I am not bipolar but I have to have had a drink of wine to be able to communicate on her level these days. is alcohol part of bipolar because she used to consume a lot of wine. Now I do on certain occasions just so I can communicate with her.

  • not available for protection


    At one time, and for a long time, I was married to an intelligent, articulate, creative, alcoholic, abusive, and likely bipolar woman. When sober, she was my soulmate, at her worst, she was pathetic. She was convicted of domestic violence and her blood alcohol content was well over 0.20 when measured at the jail. Drinking had become a daily occurrence for her, and had been for many years. We are now divorced and she lives somewhere else.

    My advice is that there is nothing that you can do to help – absolutely nothing. Alcoholics have no control over alcohol and you have no control over alcoholics. My advice is to decide for yourself if the relationship -- the relationship as it is, not as it was, and not as it could be -- is acceptable. If the relationship is acceptable, stay in it. If the relationship is unacceptable, then walk away. Your life is far too short to put up with abuse and alcoholism.

    If you make the decision to leave, then make that decision once and follow it through with no wavering. Alcoholics love only alcohol and alcoholics will pursue all manners of manipulation to maintain access to the love of their life – alcohol. Again, should you decide to leave, then make that decision and follow it through with no wavering.

    I am sorry that I cannot offer a more positive perspective. I understand the conflict between the commitment of “in sickness and in health” and the reality of self-preservation. Sometimes life does not present simple solutions. I miss my wife dearly, but I am never going back to living with an alcoholic.

    - Ain’t wastin’ time no more

  • Anonymous-1

    Sally, I really feel for you and your 2 young kids with your husband to contend with. I am in a similar situation but not as bad, yet. It's so, so hard when everyone gives the advice of "leave him to die yourself and your children". But reading your comment, this is the only thing that comes to mind. My husband has managed to turn it all around a couple of times, but is back in the bad place again. I can't manage to take my own advice because I love him, but he's bringing our family down. One last chance x


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