A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reveals that one out of every three teens diagnosed with bipolar disorder indulges in substance abuse. On average, diagnosis happens  about four years from the first time abuse occurs. The study mentions that there are risk factors that can predict the chances of a bipolar teen getting addicted to substance abuse.


Dr. Benjamin Goldstein of the University of Toronto led a team of researchers who studied 167 bipolar teens, who were aged between 12 and 17. The youth were assessed to understand the triggers for first time substance abuse and the number of youth who fell prey to abusing the substance for the first time. The Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth (COBY) supplied data for the research. The teens were questioned for around seven times during the four-year study in an attempt to understand the symptoms, work, stress factors, and treatment over the time period.  The research showed that 32% of the youth in the COBY study became dependent on substances. On an average, dependence issues were recognized 2.7 years after the study commenced. Repeated experimentation with alcohol was determined to be the single most powerful predictor of substance abuse and dependence in bipolar teens. Casual consumption of cannabis also pointed toward future drug dependence issues.


The study also found five other strong predictors of future substance abuse. These were found to be present from the beginning of the study. These include oppositional defiant disorder, panic disorder, record of substance abuse in the family, broken families, and lack of antidepressant medicine in the treatment protocol. 54.7% of bipolar teens with three or more of these predictors developed issues related to substance abuse. The number came down to 14.1% when these risk factors were two or less than two.



Funds for the COBY research were provided by the National Institute of Mental Health. This is the single largest longitudinal research on teens and children with bipolar disorder. Data was obtained from participating subjects present at three different test locations. These sites included Brown University, UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh. This study will track the teens even as they grow older and move on to their twenties and thirties.

The study reveals that teens affected by bipolar disorder are at great risk from experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Teens at risk have a period of two to three years to implement ideas that can serve to prevent them from becoming full-blown addicts.


Addiction is difficult enough without a co-occurring condition like bipolar disorder to complicate matters. If you have questions or concerns about overcoming addiction paired with bipolar disorder, the counselors and physicians at Hired Power can assist you. Call us today at 800-910-9299.

Most Recent Blog Posts

5 Ways To Forgive Yourself In Recovery

    Sometimes, in active addiction, we do things we aren’t proud of. We may have hurt the ones we love, do things we are ashamed of, and caused harm to ourselves. We may feel guilty, embarrassed, and angry. Although you may have gotten substance abuse treatment and are...

    Read More

    Recognizing A Problem With Alcohol

      It can be fun and relaxing to go out for drinks with your friends on Friday nights after a long work week or have a cocktail before bed. Many people drink alcohol and do so regularly, but how do you know when your drinking has become a problem? When many of us think...

      Read More

      Which 12-Step Program Is Right For Me?

        12-Step programs are a common part of addiction recovery. Many treatment programs utilize a 12-Step approach, and many of those recovering choose to attend meetings after they complete their treatment. Attending meetings can help individuals maintain their recovery...

        Read More


        21062 Brookhurst St. #201, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

        ©2021 All Rights Reserved. Design & Development by Goldman Marketing Group | Sitemap | Privacy Policy The information available on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions. If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact us at