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Therapy and Antidepressant For Teen Substance Abusers

teenAmong teens, depression and substance abuse are often occur together. A new report states that for these individuals, the antidepressant fluoxetine, combined with cognitive behavioral therapy provides an effect treatment regimen.

The findings are reported in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

“Adolescents with substance use disorders (SUDs) have higher rates of depression (15 percent to 24 percent) than adolescents in the general population,” the authors write as background information in the article.

“Comorbid [co-occuring] depression is also associated with more severe substance abuse, poorer drug treatment outcomes and higher relapse rates.”

Paula D. Riggs, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Colorado Denver conducted a randomized controlled trial of the antidepressant fluoxetine in 126 teens (average age 17) who met diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder, lifetime conduct disorder and at least one substance abuse disorder other than tobacco.

The adolescents were randomly assigned to receive either 20 milligrams of fluoxetine daily or placebo, along with cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy addressing the way individuals currently think and act rather than past events. The cognitive behavior therapy was focused on substance abuse rather than depression.

At the end of the 16-week treatment period, fluoxetine combined with cognitive behavioral therapy improved the teens’ scores on one of the two depression scales used. There were no significant differences on the other depression scale or in substance use or conduct disorder symptoms between the fluoxetine and placebo groups.

The results, the authors write, “indicate that, in the context of cognitive behavior therapy (substance abuse treatment), co-occurring depression may improve or remit without antidepressant pharmacotherapy.

“However, if depression does not appear to be improving early in the course of substance treatment, fluoxetine treatment should be considered, even if adolescents are not yet abstinent, with weekly monitoring of treatment adherence, substance use, adverse effects and target symptom response.”

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Therapy and Antidepressant For Teen Substance Abusers

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Therapy and Antidepressant For Teen Substance Abusers. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 17, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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