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NIDA

Comorbidity

Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Illnesses

Introduces a report that focuses on the topic of comorbid drug use disorders and other mental illnesses, a research priority for NIDA.

Published: December 2008
Revised: September 2010

Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Disorders

What Is Comorbidity?

The term “comorbidity” describes two or more disorders or illnesses occurring in the same person. They can occur at the same time or one after the other. Comorbidity also implies interactions between the illnesses that can worsen the course of both.

Mental Health

Brief Description

Many people who are addicted to drugs are also diagnosed with other mental disorders, including anxiety and depression. Some people develop mental health problems related to their compulsive drug use, and some people take drugs in an attempt to alleviate symptoms of mental health disorders. Whatever symptoms appear first, it is important to treat all mental illnesses at the same time. This section provides resources for mental illnesses beyond addiction.

Self-Control Protects Urban Minority Youths From Drug Use and Depressive Mood

Interventions that bolster self-control in childhood and early adolescence might shield ethnic and racial minority adolescents and young adults from the burden of both drug use and depressive mood.

HIV Infection Accelerates Hepatitis C–Related Liver Fibrosis

Study patients with HIV­­–hepatitis C coinfection progressed to successive degrees of severity of liver fibrosis 9 years sooner than those infected with HCV alone. Further findings from the study suggest that suppressing HIV with antiretroviral medications may slow HCV-related liver fibrosis.

Tobacco-Related Mortality and Mental Illness

Addiction goes hand in hand with other mental illnesses. People with psychiatric conditions smoke at twice to four times the rate of the general population, and they are estimated to purchase nearly half of all cigarettes sold in this country. Yet physicians have tended to ignore the smoking behavior of their psychiatric patients.

Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents: Screening and Engagement in Primary Care Settings

Summary

Offers educational tools to assist in the prevention, screening, evaluation, and referral to treatment of adolescents with or at risk for substance use disorders. Includes a video and facilitator's guide.

Resource Materials

Details

Study Parses Comorbidity of Cannabis Use and Social Anxiety

People with cannabis use disorder (CUD) are likely also to have social anxiety disorder (SAD), and comorbid SAD is associated with greater severity of cannabis-related problems. These findings highlight the importance of assessing CUD patients for SAD, as that disorder can be both a contributing cause and a consequence of CUD. Treating both disorders may be a key to helping patients recover from each.

Thoughts of Suicide May Persist Among Nonmedical Prescription Opiate Users

People who use prescription opiates nonmedically are more likely to consider suicide than those who use these medications only appropriately or not at all. A recent NIDA-supported study also disclosed that the risk for suicidal thoughts remains elevated after cessation of use.

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