• alcohol abuse;
  • bipolar I disorder;
  • bipolar II disorder;
  • dependence;
  • registry;
  • substance abuse

Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of substance abuse dependence and/or alcohol abuse dependence among subjects with bipolar I versus bipolar II disorder in a voluntary registry. Method: One hundred randomly selected registrants in a voluntary case registry for bipolar disorder were interviewed, using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders, to validate the diagnosis of this registry. Corroborative information was obtained from medical records, family members and the treating psychiatrist. Eighty-nine adults (18–65 years) met criteria for bipolar disorder (bipolar I=71, bipolar II=18) and were included in this analysis. Results: Forty-one (57.8%) subjects with bipolar I disorder abused, or were dependent on one or more substances or alcohol, 28.2% abused, or were dependent on, two substances or alcohol, and 11.3% abused or were dependent on three or more substances or alcohol. Nearly 39% of bipolar II subjects abused or were dependent on one or more substances, nearly 17% were dependent on two or more substances or alcohol, and 11% were dependent on three or more substances or alcohol. Alcohol was the most commonly abused drug among either bipolar I or II subjects. Conclusions: Consistent with other epidemiologic and hospital population studies, this voluntary bipolar disorder registry suggests a high prevalence of comorbidity with alcohol and/or substance abuse dependence. Bipolar I subjects appear to have higher rates of these comorbid conditions than bipolar II subjects; however, as the number of bipolar II subjects was rather small, this suggestion needs confirmation.