By On June 13th, 2014

Alcohol and Substance Abuse Disorders Greatly Increase The Risk of Suicide Attempts in Bipolar Disorder Patients

A new report finds that patients with bipolar disorder combined with a substance abuse disorder are twice as likely to attempt suicide as those without a substance abuse disorder.

The findings from the systematic review, “underline the importance of prevention, early detection, and aggressive treatment of [alcohol and substance abuse disorders] in individuals with [bipolar disorder] to reduce suicidality,” explained Francesco Bartoli and colleagues from the University of Milano-Biccca in Italy.

The researchers reviewed data from 29 previous studies comprised of 31,294 individuals with bipolar disorder, 6308 (20.1%) of whom had reported attempting suicide.

Out of the 29 studies, thirteen looked at the association between a lifetime history of alcohol and/or substance abuse disorders (found in 20% of the 19,062 participants in these studies) and suicide attempts.

Four of the studies specifically focused on current alcohol and/or substance abuse disorders in 3,418 patients, but the pooled analysis of these highly heterogenous studies (88.4%) showed no significant association with suicide attempts. The researchers say this suggests that “more enduring comorbidity is associated with higher risk,” as they wrote in their report published in the Journal of Affectve Disorders.

According to data from the 18 studies with relevant data, a lifetime history of alcohol use disorders was associated with a 1.72-fold increased likelihood of suicide attempts.

Similar results were found for substance abuse disorders, from the 13 relevant studies involving 7,952 participants. According to these studies, individuals who reported a lifetime history of substance use disorders were 1.77 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those without this comorbidity.

The findings of this review reinforce the strong need for early identification of both bipolar disorder and substance abuse or alcohol disorders, as well as the heightened need for treatment of these disorders.

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