Alcohol misuse in bipolar disorder. A systematic review and meta-analysis of comorbidity rates

Eur Psychiatry. 2014 Mar;29(3):117-24. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2013.07.004. Epub 2013 Sep 25.


Aims: To assess the comorbidity rates of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) in bipolar disorder (BD) and to explore possible sources of heterogeneity.

Methods: Studies were identified through database searches. Meta-analytic techniques were employed to aggregate data on lifetime comorbidity and to explore possible sources of heterogeneity. Funnel plots were used to detect publication bias.

Results: In clinical studies, AUDs affected more than one in three subjects with BD. Significant heterogeneity was found, which was largely explained by the geographical location of study populations and gender ratio of participants. AUDs affected more than one in five women and two in five men.

Conclusion: AUDs are highly prevalent in BD. Our study revealed a substantial heterogeneity across studies. Further research including control groups is needed. Patients with BD should be assessed for current and previous AUDs.

Keywords: Alcohol use disorders; Bipolar disorder; Co-occurrence; Comorbidity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity*
  • Humans