Background: Bipolar disorders and alcohol use disorders commonly co-occur, yet little is known about the proximal impact of bipolar symptoms on alcohol use in patients with this comorbidity. The present study examined the impact of depressive symptoms and alcohol craving on proximal alcohol use in patients with co-occurring bipolar disorder and alcohol dependence.
Methods: Data were collected during an 8-week randomized controlled trial of acamprosate for individuals with co-occurring bipolar disorder and alcohol dependence (n = 30). Depressive symptoms and alcohol craving were assessed biweekly using the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale (OCDS), respectively. Daily alcohol use data were available via administration of the Time-line Follow-back interview at baseline and at subsequent weekly study visits. Correlational analyses and hidden Markov modeling were used to examine the prospective relationships between depressive symptoms, alcohol craving, and alcohol use.
Results: Depressive symptoms and alcohol craving were significantly correlated with proximal (i.e., 1 week later) alcohol use across a variety of alcohol consumption summary measures. In hidden Markov models, depressive symptoms (OR = 1.3, 95% credible interval = [1.1, 1.5]) and alcohol craving (OR = 1.6, 95% credible interval = [1.4, 1.9]) significantly predicted transitioning from a light to a heavy drinking state, or remaining in a heavy drinking state.
Conclusions: The results from the present study suggest that depressive symptoms and alcohol craving increase proximal risk for alcohol use in individuals with co-occurring bipolar and alcohol use disorders.