Substance Use Treatment Cuts Depression With Co-Occurrence

One-third of teens show early depression response with substance use treatment alone

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THURSDAY, April 7, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Among teens with substance use and depression, roughly one-third show early improvements in depression during treatment for substance use, according to a study published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

John F. Curry, Ph.D., from the Duke Child & Family Study Center in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues investigated the prevalence and predictors of an early depression response (EDR) in adolescents with substance use and depression receiving cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT; up to 12 sessions over 14 weeks) for substance use. The analysis included 95 youths (aged 14 to 21 years) with assessments conducted at baseline and weeks 4, 9, and 14. Non-EDR adolescents were randomly assigned to supplemental CBT targeting depression or enhanced treatment as usual.

The researchers found that just over one-third (37 percent) of participants had EDR. EDR was predicted by fewer days of cannabis use (odds ratio, 0.977) and absence of conduct disorder (odds ratio, 0.149). For all, frequency of drinking, heavy drinking, and cannabis use decreased over time, with EDR adolescents showing earlier lower cannabis use. There was a significant increase in negative (clean) urine screens over time. There was no advantage of CBT targeting depression over enhanced treatment as usual, with depression significantly decreasing over time in both groups.

"Our findings underscore the interrelationship between cannabis use and depression over the course of treatment, highlighting the importance of attending to cannabis use when treating depressed adolescents and the benefit to mental health providers of training in substance use treatment," the authors write.

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