The Dangers of Euphoria That Come With Bipolar Disorder and Drug Use

Author - JD Meints | December 15, 2014

Euphoria is a psychological experience that makes you feel on top of the world. It's common to feel as though you could stay up all night writing the next best selling novel. Or you might feel sexually irresistible or on fire to accomplish all that you set out to do. When you are feeling euphoric, you are optimistic about the world, strongly confident, and generous. You might feel loving, creative, and successful. You are energized despite a lack of sleep, and you are making plans for the rest of your life. You look and feel great.

However, euphoria is a symptom of psychological illness. Although it is natural to feel euphoric when you are in love or spiritually inspired, if those feelings are also accompanied by other psychological experiences such as depression or psychosis, then an illness might be present. In fact, euphoria is commonly a sign that mania is developing.

Mania is one pole in the swing between high and low for those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, once called manic depression. Mania, in particular, can be accompanied with risky behavior, impulsivity, overspending, and other dangerous behavior. Often, mania will continue to develop and become more and more severe. It might begin with what psychologists refer to as hypomania, which is a less intense version of mania. However, when untreated mania can escalate and become dangerous.

Most people will experience a range of moods from high to low; however, bipolar disorders, types one and two, include moods that inhibit functioning in the world. When psychological experiences become debilitating, it becomes necessary to treat them. Bipolar disorder, type one, includes depression and mania; while bipolar disorder, type two, includes the swing from mild depression and hypomania. Type two is a less intense and less debilitating form of the disorder. As mania becomes more severe, good feelings turn into feeling omnipotent and irritable. Rather than feeling light and happy, you might become angry and frustrated.

Of course, drug use can also cause mania in its users. Some commonly used drugs can induce a feeling of well being and contentment, which can contribute to continued use of a substance. This is often the case with alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana. Other drugs such as cocaine and heroine can cause one's mood to shift dramatically and induce forms of euphoria. These feelings easily make the drug desirable and over time stimulate the cycle of addiction in the brain.

If unmanaged, euphoria and mania can be dangerous. If you see the upward spiral in a friend or loved one, the best course of action is to contact a psychiatrist. Doing this not only can help minimize escalating manic symptoms, but you'll get professional help on your side. The psychiatrist will likely examine any already existing medications and whether they have been taken as prescribed, and perhaps make an adjustment to the prescription.

After you've sought professional assistance, you might also consider the following strategies to control any escalating symptoms of mania:

  • Make sure your loved is taking his or her prescribed medication.
  • Maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle.
  • Chart moods and sleep patterns.
  • Encourage your loved one to avoid alcohol, drugs, and all other substances.
  • Demand that your loved one give up the keys to his or her car, in order to keep them safe during a manic episode and avoid any risky behavior.
  • Assert that your loved one avoid making major life decisions while in the middle of a manic episode.
  • Strongly advise your loved one to not manage large sums of money.
  • Minimize the levels of stimulation in the house and, as much as possible, create a sense of serenity at home.
  • If your loved one is experiencing a manic episode and he or she is engaging in risky or dangerous behavior, don't be afraid to call the police.

If your loved one continues to argue the fact that nothing is wrong, which is likely because he or she is feeling great, you might want to remind them of the depression or psychosis that he or she will cycle through if diagnosed with bipolar disorder. If the mania is an experience due to drug use, you can impose limitations on his or her behavior for their safety as well as yours.


Hicks, J.W. (2005). 50 signs of mental illness: A user-friendly guide to psychiatric symptoms and what you should know about them. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press

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