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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Drug Problems and Bipolar Disorder

06/23/2005

Question:

About 5 weeks ago we found a very small amount of pot (so little police were not sure what it was) in my 15 year old sons room. We immediately took him for a drug screen which came back negative. After 3 weeks we were told he was bipolar 2. Last week we found a small amount of cocaine (barely enough to test) in his room and immediately took him another drug screen which again came back negative. He has told us and others he has smoked pot and drank but has also denied any activities. Since November he has been tested 5 times and all came back negative. Is it common for bipolar children to lie about doing drugs to hide that fact that they have a mental illness? He is currently in a treatment center and they say he has drug problem but their test also came back negative.

Answer:

The fact that you feel uncomfortable enough to check for drugs along with the fact that your son is admitting to marijuana and alcohol use are indications that this is an issue, particularly in an individual with underlying mental health disorder.  I would discount the negative tests and rely on both his admission, his underlying vulnerability, and your high index of suspicion to guide you in seeking help for him.  A comprehensive approach at a treatment facility would take this into account an suggest a treatment plan 

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati