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Drug Therapy for Peds Psych Disorders, Later SUD Risk Examined

FRIDAY, May 27, 2022 -- Pharmacotherapy for pediatric psychiatric disorders possibly may reduce the risk for later substance use disorder (SUD), according to a review published online May 17 in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

Timothy E. Wilens, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to examine pharmacological treatments of psychiatric disorders in adolescents and young adults and their effect on substance use, misuse, and use disorder development. Twenty-one studies were included that examined the impact of pharmacotherapy and later SUD in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), two studies in major depressive disorder, and three studies on psychotic disorders.

The researchers found that most of the studies reported reductions in SUD, followed by no effects and enhanced rates of SUD (14, 10, and two studies, respectively). Earlier-onset and longer-duration treatment was associated with the largest risk reduction for later SUD in studies in ADHD.

"The fact that the literature shows that juvenile-onset psychiatric disorders are significant risk factors for SUD coupled with our findings that medication treatment reduces that risk affirms that we need to identify and treat psychiatric disorders early in life," Wilens said in a statement. "Picking it up early and treating these kids as long as they require treatment leads to a much better outcome when it comes to substance use disorders."

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