Ventre Medical Associates Treats Bipolar Disorder in At-Risk Teens

The psychiatrists at Ventre Medical Associates explore the link between adolescent bipolar disorder and the development of substance abuse.

Ventre Medical Associates | Saving Teens With Bipolar Disorder from Substance Abuse

While anyone of any age can suffer from a mental health disorder, say the professional psychiatrists at Ventre Medical Associates, teenagers often present some of the most  intricate concerns when it comes to mental wellbeing. This is because the naturally confusing and chaotic time in a person’s life that is adolescence can make detecting real mental issues even harder. This is also because issues that are not caught and treated during the teenage years can grow into even larger problems later in life.

As a case in point, in a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers discovered a strong link between bipolar disorder in adolescents and substance abuse later in life. Specifically, approximately one third of teenagers suffering from bipolar disorder are expected to develop substance abuse issues as they grow up. This, says Ventre Medical Associates, makes identifying and treating the disorder in adolescents all the more pressing.

The Study’s Findings

The study in question followed 167 children between the ages of 12 and 17 using data from the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth, or COBY. The study lasted for four years, during which time participants were interviewed by researchers an average of seven times each. These interviews investigated the frequency of first-onset substance abuse in participants, as well as their treatment, stressors, how well they functioned, and the overall symptoms of their bipolar disorders.

What these researchers found was that, after an average of 2.7 years from the study’s beginning, 32 percent of COBY teenagers developed a dependence on drugs or alcohol. Researchers found that this onset of substance abuse included the following seven predictive risk factors.

  • Early experimentation with alcohol
  • Early experimentation with marijuana
  • History of substance abuse within the family
  • Lack of antidepressants in treatment
  • Low cohesiveness of the family
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Panic disorder

For adolescents exhibiting two or fewer of these factors, the risk of developing a dependency on drugs or alcohol was just 14.1 percent. Adolescents with three or more of these factors, however, saw a 54.7 percent chance of becoming dependent.

“Teens experimenting with drugs or alcohol, even recreationally, are already at risk of developing a substance addiction,” explain the psychiatrists at Ventre Medical Associates. “What this study seems to suggest, however, is that adding bipolar disorder into the mix only further increases this risk. This would mean that bipolar adolescents especially should refrain from even recreational experimentation, as the danger for them is heightened.”

The researchers of the study mirror this concern, saying that there appears to be a period of two to three years during which substance abuse in bipolar teens may be prevented. This helps provide psychiatrists with a few clues as to how to best approach preventative strategies with regard to bipolar youth and substance abuse.

Ventre Medical Associates Helps Patients Better Understand Bipolar Disorder

To put the findings of this study to best use, says Ventre Medical Associates, teens and those who care for them must first be able to recognize and understand bipolar disorder. In teenage sufferers especially, separating this real issue from common moodiness can sometimes prove challenging.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental issue marked by sudden and extreme changes in mood. As Ventre Medical Associates explains, these moods alternate between episodes of depression, called lows, and episodes of mania, called highs.

  • Low episodes bring everything one would expect from depression, including a lack of energy and enthusiasm, failure to find pleasure in once favored activities, and feelings of intense sadness.
  • High episodes stand in stark contrast to this, bringing hyperactivity, racing thoughts, a lack of sleep, and feelings of intense happiness.

Despite these periods of happiness, Ventre Medical Associates warns that bipolar disorder is a serious issue that requires professional treatment, as the recurring and extreme changes in mood can easily become disruptive to a person’s health and daily life.

How Does Bipolar Disorder Differ from Mood Swings?

While changes in mood and attitude for no discernible outside reason is a common hallmark of adolescence in many, Ventre Medical Associates explains that bipolar disorder is much more serious than simple mood swings. “Mood swings in teenagers tend to be relatively short lived and not as extreme,” explains a VMA psychiatrist. “Bipolar disorder, however, has been popularly described as an emotional rollercoaster. The changes are more pronounced and last for longer, sometimes as long as a year or more.”

This extreme shifting of mood can keep those suffering from the disorder from experiencing a normal life, the professionals at Ventre Medical Associates warn. The crippling effects of depression are well known, but even the high-energy manic episodes can prove disastrous. This is because those suffering from mania often prove more aggressive, impulsive, and irresponsible. In teens especially, this can lead to many different types of dangerous behavior – including experimentation with drugs and alcohol that may well turn into addiction.

If left untreated for too long, bipolar disorder can even serve to disconnect its sufferer from reality, resulting in common symptoms of psychosis. These include hallucinations, hearing voices, and intense paranoia.

For these reasons, as well as those found in the study mentioned above, Ventre Medical Associates urges parents to seek professional help for their teenagers who may be suffering from bipolar disorder.


Ventre Medical Associates is an outpatient psychiatric clinic located in the Fort Lauderdale, FL area. It was founded in 2011 by psychiatrist Dr. Peter Ventre and has already made a name for itself throughout its community. The psychiatric professionals here deal extensively with a wide variety of mental health issues, from anxiety disorders like depression to developmental disorders like autism. They also work with patients suffering from substance abuse and addiction recovery. In addition to seeing patients in-house, VMA psychiatrists also do extensive work with both local area hospitals and clinical researcher in psychiatric drug trials assisting pharmaceutical companies find the next step forward in mental health treatment. . Their business associates include Broward General Hospital, Behavioral Health Imperial Point Hospital, the rehabilitation centers Destination Hope and Recovery First, and  Ventre Medical Associates sister company, the pharmaceutical research company Research Centers of America.