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Bipolar disorder and substance abuse

  • Frances R. Levin
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Frances R. Levin, M.D., Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Drive, Unit 66, New York, NY 10032 USA
    Affiliations
    Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Grace Hennessy
    Affiliations
    Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York, USA
    Search for articles by this author

      Abstract

      Substance use disorders are overrepresented in individuals with bipolar and bipolar spectrum disorders. Although awareness of this phenomenon has increased over the past 20 years, few empirically based treatment strategies have been developed for this challenging patient population. This review examines the relationship between bipolar and substance use disorders and treatment options that have been studied in this patient population. First, we examine the high prevalence rates of substance use disorders in individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the common problems associated with establishing a bipolar disorder diagnosis in individuals who abuse substances, the possible explanations for the frequent coexistence of bipolar and substance use disorders, and the negative effect of substance abuse on the course of and treatment outcomes for bipolar disorder. The review then focuses on treatment approaches for this patient population, including integrated group therapy for co-occurring bipolar and substance use disorders and pharmacotherapies that target both disorders. Finally, we present suggestions for medications that might be tested for their efficacy in treating both disorders in specific subgroups of patients with bipolar and substance use disorders.

      Keywords

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