Cigarette smoking and misuse of substances by young adults in the United States is a big concern. Adolescence is marked by curiosity to try out new things and adopt new habits. Unbridled use of substances during this stage increases the risk of dependence, leading to addiction. According to a study conducted five years ago, adolescent bipolar disorder is associated with the greater risk of cigarette smoking and substance use disorder.
Now, a recent study, a follow-up to the previous one, revealed that the potential to continue abusing drugs and alcohol aggravates with age among adolescents with a persistent bipolar problem. The study, titled “Further Evidence for Smoking and Substance Use Disorders in Youth With Bipolar Disorder and Comorbid Conduct Disorder,” said that the risk was higher even five years later.
As part of the study, published online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in August 2016, structured inquiries were made for 68 of the 105 original respondents suffering from bipolar disorder and 81 members of the control group. The control group originally had 98 respondents with no mood disorders. Among those who had initially exhibited signs of bipolar disorder, 36 still continued to suffer from it, while nine manifested symptoms that were not in accordance with the criteria to be identified as bipolar patients.
Conduct disorder may aggravate substance abuse problem
The scientists observed that during the gap of five years, from the original study to the current, more members originally afflicted with bipolar disorder had been abusing new substances compared with those in the control group. The overall prevalence of substance abuse among patients with bipolar disorder was noted to be 49 percent when contrasted with 26 percent in the control group.
An examination showed that controlling the conduct disorder problems helped in checking substance use disorder. This suggested that co-occurring problems of conduct disorder may be a risk factor for bipolar disorder. Elucidating the findings of the research, lead author of the study Dr. Timothy Wilens, co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine, said, “We were surprised to find that conduct disorder, but not ADHD, played such a large role in mediating the increased risk of substance use disorder among those with bipolar disorder. While this might be the result of having only a few participants with bipolar disorder alone, it may be that it is the presence of conduct disorder that drives substance use disorder as adolescents with bipolar disorder become young adults.”
Need to check bipolar patients for substance use disorder
The study makes it clear that psychologists attending to patients with bipolar disorder must inquire about their existing dependence habit, be it for smoking or drinking. And as tendencies of substance use disorder develop after the onset of bipolar symptoms, it is imperative for doctors to monitor their patients for any addictive habit while treating them for their mental health problems.
Brain imaging of some patients is being carried out to understand the complexity of brain circuitry involved in such disorders. Experts need to understand that the tendencies of people with bipolar to abuse addictive substances and the impact of psychological treatment on prevalence of smoking and substance use disorder need to be looked into.
Timely treatment must not be ignored
Timely treatment of mental disorder, be it of any nature, must not be ignored as any carelessness might increase the severity of mental disorders that can open the window to self-medicate through various substances.
If your loved one is living with co-occurring disorders or someone you know is in the need of dual diagnosis help, contact the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline for expert advice on best dual diagnosis facilities in California. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1736 or chat online to get instant assistance regarding some effective dual diagnosis rehabs in California.