Comorbid Substance Use and Anxiety Disorders in Adolescents

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To explore the coexistence of substance use disorders and anxiety disorders in adolescents, we assessed adolescents presenting for treatment to an inpatient substance abuse treatment facility (SUH), an inpatient psychiatric treatment facility (IPH), and a community-based psychiatric facility (CMHC) for comorbid substance use and psychiatric diagnoses. Thirty subjects from each facility (N=90) were interviewed using the revised Child Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS) and the Structured Clinical Interview DSM-III-R (SCID-R) for substance use diagnoses. Overall, comorbidity (anxiety and substance use disorders) prevalence was 67% (20/30) of adolescents in the SUH group, 33% (10/30) of the CMHC adolescents, and 33% (10/30) of the IPH adolescents. Alcohol and marijuana were the most frequently abused substances. Anxiety disorders commonly coexist with substance use disorders in adolescents. Early identification and treatment of anxiety disorders may in fact prevent substance abuse in this population.