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Nearly 1 in 10 teens with mental illness drinks, smokes and uses pot weekly

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Photocapy/Flickr Creative Commons

Nearly one in five young teens seeking help for mental illness said they smoked cigarettes daily.

Around one in 10 mentally ill teenagers drinks alcohol, smokes cigarettes and uses marijuana at least once a week, which doesn't bode well for those teens' long-term physical and mental health.

That's according to a new Australian study, published in the journal BMJ Open.

The rate of substance abuse among the mentally ill increased as they got older, said researchers, highlighting evidence that early "substance misuse" increases a person's risk of developing mental illness – and vice versa. (That means that early-onset mental disorders "are associated with increased risk of alcohol or other substance misuse" as well.)

All of that, of course, is "likely to contribute to increased risk of poor physical and/or mental health outcomes," as the authors put it.

Among their findings:

  • 12 percent of young teens (between the ages of 12 and 17) seeking help for mental illness said they drank at least once a week.
  • 7 percent admitted to smoking pot at least once a week.
  • 23 percent said they smoked cigarettes daily.
  • The average age at which these patterns begin is 15 years old.
  • Users of any or all of these substances were more likely to be male, older and psychotic/bipolar.