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Therapy for Both Bipolar Disorder, Drug Use May Help

Substance use may be lower in patients with concurrent drug or alcohol dependence

THURSDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with concurrent bipolar disorder and substance dependence, integrated group therapy, which addresses both conditions, shows signs of being an effective treatment and may reduce substance use more than group drug counseling alone, researchers report in the January issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Roger D. Weiss, M.D., of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial of 62 patients with bipolar disorder and substance dependence, who were treated with mood-stabilizing drugs for at least two weeks and then randomized to receive 20 weeks of integrated group therapy or group drug counseling.

Those receiving integrated group therapy reported fewer days of substance use per month compared with other patients during treatment (5.3 versus 10 days) and follow-up (6 versus 12 days). However, patients in this group had more manic and depressive symptoms than the drug therapy group.

"Our study results suggest that integrated group therapy can be conducted with excellent fidelity, has substantial patient acceptability, and has promising results for patients with both bipolar and substance use disorders," the authors conclude. "Since most patients with both disorders receive psychosocial treatment focused on one disorder or neither disorder, integrated group therapy appears to fill a gap for this population, which has traditionally had poor outcomes."

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