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Problematic Substance Use in Adolescent Psychiatric Inpatients: Rates, Clinical Correlates and Effects on Therapeutic Outcomes


Xavier Benarous*, Pierre Morales , Cora Cravero, Barbara Jakubowicz, Nadège Bourvis , David Cohen and Yves Edel  


Aims: We aimed to document the clinical rates and correlates of problematic substance use among adolescent inpatients.

Background: Adolescents referred to psychiatric inpatient care are likely to present family and social risk factors making them at high-risk of substance use disorder

Objective: To document the rates, clinical correlates and effects on therapeutic outcomes of associated problematic substance use in adolescents referred to psychiatric inpatient care.

Method: The DEP-ADO questionnaire was used to systematically screen out problematic substance use in two 12-18 adolescent inpatient units between January 2017 and December 2018. Inpatients screened positively based on the DEP-ADO questionnaire and/or information gathered from repeated interviews with the youth and his/her family were reported to the liaison addiction unit for diagnosis. Chart-review procedure was used to document clinical correlates (i.e., suicidal behavior, DSM-5 psychiatric diagnoses, the Clinical Global Impression-Severity score) and therapeutic outcomes (i.e., the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement score, change in Children-Global Assessment Scale score during patients’ stay and length of stay).

Result: Over two years, 150 adolescents completed the DEP-ADO questionnaire (Mean Age =14.7 ± 1.7; 42% girls). Thirty percent of adolescent inpatients reported some type of problematic substance use, with a higher likelihood of daily tobacco use (OR=2.4), regular cannabis use (OR=2.3) and occasional opioid/heroin use (OR=9.8) compared to general population. Adolescent inpatients who misused illegal substance prior admission were 2.5 times more likely to report suicidal behaviors. A strong association was reported between binge drinking behavior and a discharge diagnosis of bipolar disorder (OR=11.0). Therapeutic outcomes were not statistically different with regards to alcohol or illicit substance use status.

Conclusion: Inpatient adolescents were at high-risk of having associated problematic substance use. Patients with co-existing problematics seem to have more severe and chronic forms of mood disturbances, although the response rate to therapeutics provided during their stay were not lower compared to their counterparts without problematic substance use.


substance use, alcohol use, binge drinking, adolescent inpatient, dual disorders, dual disorder


Department of Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, Amiens University Hospital, Amiens, Department of Addiction, APHP.6, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, Maison des Adolescents du Var, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, Department of Addiction, APHP.6, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris

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