The spectrum of substance abuse in bipolar disorder: reasons for use, sensation seeking and substance sensitivity.Bipolar Disord. 2007 May; 9(3):213-20.BD
To examine the spectrum of alcohol and substance abuse, including reasons for use, in patients with bipolar I disorder, compared with patients with substance use disorder and healthy controls, with a specific focus on the relationship between substance use, substance sensitivity, other comorbid psychiatric symptoms and traits related to sensation seeking.
This study included 104 patients with bipolar I disorder (BPD I), of whom 57 (54.8%) met DSM-IV criteria for lifetime alcohol or substance use disorder (BPD + SUD), 35 patients with substance use disorder (SUD) and no psychiatric disorder and 50 healthy controls. Assessments included the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID) and the Structured Clinical Interview for the Spectrum of Substance Use (SCI-SUBS).
Patients with BPD + SUD and SUD had significantly higher scores on the SCI-SUBS domains of self-medication, substance sensitivity and sensation seeking compared with patients with BPD and healthy controls. Reasons for substance use did not differ between patients with BPD + SUD and patients with SUD. Those most frequently cited were: improving mood; relieving tension; alleviating boredom; achieving/maintaining euphoria; and increasing energy.
Recourse to substances is associated with increased mood and anxiety symptoms, substance sensitivity, and sensation seeking among patients with BPD + SUD and SUD. Substance sensitivity and sensation seeking traits should be investigated in all patients with BPD as possible factors associated with a development of SUD, in order to warn patients of the specific risks related to improper use of medications and substances.