The integration of pharmacological therapy for comorbid psychiatric and addictive disorders

J Psychoactive Drugs. 1997 Jul-Sep;29(3):249-54. doi: 10.1080/02791072.1997.10400198.


The integration of pharmacological therapies for comorbid disorders requires an acceptance of independence and interactions of respective addictive and psychiatric disorders. At the same time, alcohol and other drugs induce psychiatric states that are indistinguishable from psychiatric disorders. On the other hand, while psychiatric disorders do not induce addictive use of alcohol and drugs, they do pose vulnerabilities to the development of addictive disorders. Generally, the treatment of comorbid disorders begins with abstinence and evaluation of the effects of alcohol and other drugs in contributing to the psychiatric picture. In the case of comorbid disorders, stabilization and standard treatments can be employed with certain cautions, namely, to avoid the use of addicting medications such as benzodiazepines and opiates beyond the detoxification stage. High potency neuroleptics and antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be used to treat continuing psychiatric states after the exclusionary criteria in DSM-IV for substance-related disorders have been applied to the clinical case. If the psychiatric symptoms clear with sustained abstinence, little or no medications may be required. Specific treatment of the addictive disorders will often determine the extent that addictive disorders are responsible for psychiatric symptomatology. Alternatively, treatment of the psychiatric disorder will enhance compliance with addiction treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents