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Bipolar Disord. 2000 Sep;2(3 Pt 1):191-5.

Lifetime prevalence of substance or alcohol abuse and dependence among subjects with bipolar I and II disorders in a voluntary registry.

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  • 1Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, School of Medicine, PA 15213-2593, USA.



To evaluate the prevalence of substance abuse dependence and/or alcohol abuse dependence among subjects with bipolar I versus bipolar II disorder in a voluntary registry.


One hundred randomly selected registrants in a voluntary case registry for bipolar disorder were interviewed, using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders, to validate the diagnosis of this registry. Corroborative information was obtained from medical records, family members and the treating psychiatrist. Eighty-nine adults (18-65 years) met criteria for bipolar disorder (bipolar I = 71, bipolar II = 18) and were included in this analysis.


Forty-one (57.8%) subjects with bipolar I disorder abused, or were dependent on one or more substances or alcohol, 28.2% abused, or were dependent on, two substances or alcohol, and 11.3% abused or were dependent on three or more substances or alcohol. Nearly 39% of bipolar II subjects abused or were dependent on one or more substances, nearly 17% were dependent on two or more substances or alcohol, and 11% were dependent on three or more substances or alcohol. Alcohol was the most commonly abused drug among either bipolar I or II subjects.


Consistent with other epidemiologic and hospital population studies, this voluntary bipolar disorder registry suggests a high prevalence of comorbidity with alcohol and/or substance abuse dependence. Bipolar I subjects appear to have higher rates of these comorbid conditions than bipolar II subjects; however, as the number of bipolar II subjects was rather small, this suggestion needs confirmation.

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