Why You Shouldn't Drink Alcohol with Bipolar

December 1, 2023 Natasha Tracy

Drinking alcohol with bipolar is a no-no, but over the holidays, it can be hard to remember that. After all, at holiday parties, everyone seems to be drinking. What might help is understanding why people with bipolar disorder shouldn't imbibe alcohol.

People with Bipolar Disorder Are Commonly Addicted to Alcohol

Firstly, it's important to understand that alcohol use disorders are frequent in those with bipolar disorder. It is estimated that between 40-70 percent of people with bipolar disorder will experience an alcohol use disorder at some time in their lives.1 And as anyone who has tried to come back from an addiction will tell you, it's much better not to start the addiction rather than have to dig yourself out afterward. 

There are many reasons why people with bipolar disorder commonly abuse alcohol. It's partially due to a genetic predisposition1 and also, I suspect, an attempt to medicate symptoms. While wanting to medicate your bipolar symptoms makes perfect sense, there are much better ways to go about doing it.

When You Drink with Bipolar

One of the most obvious problems when it comes to drinking with bipolar disorder is medication complications. Specifically, alcohol can change how your prescribed medications work (you'll note many of your medications have bold warnings about not drinking on them), making them less therapeutic. This right there can negatively impact you and your bipolar disorder.

But more than that, alcohol is known to hurt people with bipolar disorder by:2

Drinking Alcohol with Bipolar -- My Experience

I've had various experiences drinking alcohol with bipolar disorder. Most commonly, I've found that depression follows drinking. It's that simple. I'm a person who wants to avoid depression as much as possible, so while drinking seems like fun when other people do it, I have to remind myself that, for me, it brings about the absolute opposite of fun.

Alcohol and Bipolar Over the Holidays

I'm not here to tell you not to drink alcohol because of bipolar disorder. What I'm here to do is to tell you to consider your stability, how tenuous it is, and how difficult it can be to regain. I'm here to tell you that drinking alcohol can compromise your stability. I'm here to tell you that alcohol can make your medications not work well. I'm here to tell you that all this put together should make you seriously consider whether drinking, just to fit in with the family, is worth it.

Remember, the holidays may be coming up, but that is a holiday from work, not a holiday from bipolar disorder.


  1. Grunze, H., Schaefer, M., Scherk, H., Born, C., & Preuss, U. W. (2021). Comorbid Bipolar and Alcohol Use Disorder—A therapeutic challenge. Frontiers in Psychiatry12.
  2. Martyn, F., McPhilemy, G., Nabulsi, L., Quirke, J., Hallahan, B., McDonald, C., & Cannon, D. M. (2022). Alcohol use is associated with affective and interoceptive network alterations in bipolar disorder. Brain and Behavior13(1).

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2023, December 1). Why You Shouldn't Drink Alcohol with Bipolar, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

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