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Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Aug;162(8):1483-93.

Co-occurring mental and substance use disorders: the neurobiological effects of chronic stress.

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  • 1Clinical Neuroscience Division, Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, 69 President St., Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


The high rate of co-occurrence of substance use disorders and other psychiatric disorders is well established. The population of people with co-occurring disorders is heterogeneous, and the prevalence of comorbidity differs by diagnostic group. One of the overarching issues in the area of comorbidity is the nature of the connection between psychiatric disorders and substance use disorders. The rapid development of technical advances in the neurosciences has led to a better understanding of the molecular biology, neurotransmitter systems, and neural circuitry involved in mental illness and substance use disorders. The authors discuss the neurobiological interface between substance use disorders and other psychiatric disorders with an emphasis on emerging data concerning four psychiatric disorders that commonly co-occur with substance use disorders: depression/mood disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and schizophrenia. Better understanding of the connection between substance use disorders and psychiatric disorders could have a profound effect on prevention and treatment.

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