In a study of youth who have a parental history of bipolar disorder and who have a high-risk of developing a mood disorder themselves, about one-quarter of participants had a substance use disorder (SUD).
The study, completed by Anne Duffy and her team at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, looked at 211 youth over the age of 12 with a parental history of bipolar disorder, to find that 24 percent of participants met the criteria for a lifetime of SUD.
In a mean follow-up-period of 5.2 years, researchers found the risk of developing a major mood disorder for those with a SUD was close to three times higher than those without. The hazard ratio (HR) was 2.99 for developing a major mood disorder, and 3.40 for developing bipolar. Having a SUD also meant an increased risk of psychosis.
In the Journal of Affective Disorders, the researchers report that "the early identification and prevention of SUD in this identifiable population of high-risk young people should be a major public health priority."
Among participants who met SUD criteria [according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders] (DSM-IV)], the mean age of onset was 17.1 years, with the peak hazard age ranging from 14 to 20 years.
Significant predictors of a SUD were being male and a parental history of SUD.
At 16.6 percent, cannabis was the most common substance abused, followed by alcohol at 13.7 percent. Researchers also found that 32 percent of those with an SUD had at least two lifetime diagnoses.
"The major findings of this study support that SUD is a major clinical problem occurring early in the evolving course of [bipolar disorder], during a very important time for neurological, cognitive, emotional and academic development," reported Duffy et al. "This observation underscores the importance of further research to determine who in this vulnerable population develops SUD, and how this differs initially or at all from SUD in the general adolescent population.
Added the researchers: "This information would then lend itself to the development of specific early and perhaps preventative interventions targeting the underpinnings of SUD in HR populations, and may have relevance for prevention in the adolescent general population."
Source: News Medical