Should we adjust substance use disorder treatment for depressed adolescents?

November 20, 2014, Taylor & Francis

Although depression and substance use disorders commonly co-occur in adolescents, little is known about how depression influences adolescent substance use disorder treatment retention and outcomes.  With this issue in mind, a team of American researchers reviewed the available scientific literature and suggested four important considerations to maximize the clinical impact of future research regarding adolescent depression symptoms and substance use.  Their review is published in the newest special issue of Substance Abuse journal.

In the review, the researchers noted the mixed results of a total of thirteen quantitative studies investigating whether and how depression is associated with substance-related outcomes.  "Our review highlights that studies to date varied widely in hypotheses and research methods, suggesting that the field needs to develop more standardized methods to allow for a clearer understanding of the role of comorbid depression among adolescents in ," wrote the researchers in a joint statement.

To avoid future ambiguities within clinical research, the researchers provide four considerations to inform study design.  First, researchers must consider the time frame for assessing , such as measuring symptoms at both the beginning and end of treatment and distinguishing between lifetime versus current symptoms. A second consideration pertains to the debate about whether to address comorbid depression within treatment, and if so, how. Measuring comorbid symptoms at the beginning and end of treatment even when depression is not specifically addressed during treatment would help to answer this question. Third, it is also important to assess comorbidity both dimensionally (i.e., severity level) and categorically (i.e., meets criteria for a disorder) in order to fully understand the effects of depression on treatment success.  Fourth, researchers should consider the timing of comorbid symptoms relative to the since substance use disorders can occur before, after, or simultaneously with the onset of depression.

"Clarification based on rigorous research studies will permit researchers to identify the conditions under which depression can influence substance abuse treatment retention and outcomes, which in turn will help to specify when needs to be directly addressed with this population of young people," explained the researchers.

Explore further: Combined depression, substance abuse linked to lower income

More information: Jacqueline Hersh, John F. Curry & Yifrah Kaminer, "What is the Impact of Comorbid Depression on Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment?" Substance Abuse, DOI: 10.1080/08897077.2014.956164

Related Stories

Combined depression, substance abuse linked to lower income

November 14, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Young adults with co-occurring depression and substance abuse have a higher likelihood of being unemployed and having lower income in midlife than those with neither disorder, according to a study by Dr. ...

Mapping the future of adolescent substance use treatment

November 17, 2014
Adolescent substance use treatment is at a critical turning point – treatment success is short-lived and the field lacks a definitive best approach. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh conducted a comprehensive ...

Study details risk factors for substance use disorders after manic episode

July 22, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Adolescents with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop substance use disorders than adolescents without psychiatric disorders. Now, researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have identified ...

Cognitive behavioral therapy may benefit patients in residential substance abuse treatment programs

June 6, 2011
Patients in residential treatment programs for drug and alcohol abuse may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for depressive symptoms, according to a report in the June issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Treatment of substance abuse can lessen risk of future violence in mentally ill, study finds

October 1, 2014
If a person is dually diagnosed with a severe mental illness and a substance abuse problem, are improvements in their mental health or in their substance abuse most likely to reduce the risk of future violence?

Collaborative care improves depression in teens

August 26, 2014
How best to care for the many adolescents who have depression? In a collaborative care intervention, a care manager continually reached out to teens—delivering and following up on treatment in a primary-care setting (the ...

Recommended for you

Smoking cessation: A genetic mutation involved in relapse

October 4, 2018
Why is it so difficult to stop smoking? Why do some people relapse months after giving up? Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS, in collaboration with Sorbonne University and Inserm, have demonstrated that a ...

Study shows cigarillo flavors enhanced by high-intensity sweeteners

October 3, 2018
In a new study, Yale researchers found that popular brands of cigarillos are flavored with high-intensity sweeteners, potentially reducing the aversive sensation of smoking and making cigarillos more palatable. The concern ...

Leading addiction experts call for more neuroscience research on long-term recovery

September 24, 2018
September is addiction recovery month, and, in the midst of the current opioid epidemic, it's an apt moment for addiction research experts to map the future path forward for a long-term recovery strategy for substance abuse. ...

The connection between alcoholism and depression

September 21, 2018
Alcoholism and depression often go hand-in-hand.

Quitting junk food produces similar withdrawal-type symptoms as drug addiction

September 20, 2018
If you plan to try and quit junk food, expect to suffer similar withdrawal-type symptoms—at least during the initial week—like addicts experience when they attempt to quit using drugs.

Low academic achievement can lead to drug abuse decades later, research finds

September 13, 2018
A Virginia Commonwealth University researcher has found that poor academic achievement can lead to substance abuse. Data collected from Swedish participants over a period of 15 to 20 years indicate a strong correlation.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.