Alcohol, Nicotine, & Other Drug Use Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


I am a recovering alcoholic and also have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I have trouble with taking my medication on a consistent basis. Can you offer any help?


The problem of compliance with medication is not uncommon among persons suffering from bipolar disorder. Compliance can be a particular problem when a person is moving into a manic phase. The euphoria of early mania can convince a person that all is well and medication unnecessary. The noncompliance with the medication obviously encourages the progression of the illness.

You did not say so in your question but let's assume for the moment that you participate in a 12-Step program for the alcoholism. If that's correct, why not address the medication issue through the 12 Steps. In recovery, we learn how to care about ourselves in a healthy way. This includes developing a loving attitude toward our bodies. I often encourage persons in recovery to list themselves under persons to whom they need to make amends. This includes amends for the manner in which we have treated our bodies. Consider the consistent taking of your medication to be one way in which you are making amends to your body.

If your recovery does not include 12 step work, nonetheless consider taking the medication to be an important facet of recovery from alcoholism. Link the two together.


Reid K. Hester, Ph.D.
Director, Research Division
Behavior Therapy Associates
3810 Osuna Rd NE Suite 1
Albuquerque, NM 87109
505.345.6100 ph
505.342.2454 fax
Behavioral Self-control Program for Windows


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