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Educational Activity

Adolescent Substance Abuse and Psychiatric Comorbidities

Deborah Deas and E. Sherwood Brown

Published: July 14, 2006

This CME activity is expired. For more CME activities, visit
Find more articles on this and other psychiatry and CNS topics:
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders

Article Abstract

The use and abuse of substances—includingalcohol, nicotine, marijuana, inhalants, and other drugs—are commonly found tobe comorbid with psychiatric conditions in adolescents. This dual diagnosisrequires special attention and treatment, especially as substance use oftenbegins during this developmental period. Adolescents may be diagnosed withsubstance abuse, substance dependence, or substance use disorder not otherwisespecified, which indicates a developing substance use problem that includessymptoms of but does not meet criteria for substance dependence. Psychiatriccomorbidity in adolescents who abuse substances is the rule rather theexception, and common comorbidities include depression, anxiety, bipolardisorder, conduct disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.Treatment of the psychiatric disorder often helps to alleviate the substanceuse disorder as well. This activity discusses the epidemiology, assessment, andtreatment of this dual diagnosis.

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