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Report confirms increased risk of smoking, substance abuse in bipolar adolescents
Date:6/2/2008

A study from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) supports previous reports that adolescents with bipolar disorder are at increased risk for smoking and substance abuse. The article appearing in the June Drug and Alcohol Dependence describing the largest such investigation to date and the first to include a control group also indicates that bipolar-associated risk is independent of the risk conferred by other disorders affecting study participants.

"This work confirms that bipolar disorder (BPD) in adolescents is a huge risk factor for smoking and substance abuse, as big a risk factor as is juvenile delinquency," says Timothy Wilens, MD, director of Substance Abuse Services in MGH Pediatric Psychopharmacology, who led the study. "It indicates both that young people with BPD need to carefully be screened for smoking and for substance use and abuse and that adolescents known to abuse drugs and alcohol especially those who binge use should also be assessed for BPD."

It has been estimated that up to 20 percent of children and adolescents treated for psychiatric problems have bipolar disorder, and there is evidence that pediatric and adolescent BPD may have features, such as particularly frequent and dramatic mood swings, not found in the adult form of the disorder. While elevated levels of smoking and substance abuse previously have been reported in young and adult BPD patients, it has not been clear how the use and abuse of substances relates to the presence of BPD or whether any increased risk could be attributed to co-existing conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder or anxiety disorders.

The current study analyzes extensive data including family histories, information from primary care physicians, and a detailed psychiatric interview gathered at the outset of a continuing investigation following a group of young BPD patients into adulthood. In addition to 105 participants wi
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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