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Relapse Contexts for Substance Abusing Adolescents with Comorbid Psychopathology

NCJ Number
Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: 2007 Pages: 65-82
Kristen G. Anderson; Kevin C. Frissell; Sandra A. Brown
Date Published
18 pages
This study examined the relationship of diagnosis, developmentally relevant factors (e.g., life stress and peer substance use), and mental health symptoms to relapse in substance use for 103 adolescents with Axis I psychopathology (ages 12-17) following inpatient substance-abuse treatment.
The study found that current psychiatric symptoms and developmentally relevant factors, but not psychiatric diagnosis at treatment entry, predicted which youth returned to alcohol and drug use in the 6 months following treatment. A return to substance use within 6 months after treatment commonly occurred in the company of same-aged or older peers, most often while socializing with friends they knew prior to treatment. Youth with both substance-use and mental-health disorders relapsed when dealing with temptation. A large portion of these youth also indicated that social pressure was an important factor in the specific context for failing to resist temptation. The psychiatric symptoms of youth with mental-health disorders placed them at highest risk for relapse under social pressure. Anxiety and depressive symptoms apparently reduced a youth's ability to maintain abstinence from substance use. The findings suggest that attention to the specific symptoms of youth psychopathology within the context of developmental stressors and abstinence-maintenance motivation is necessary in order to prevent a return to substance use for youth with both mental-health disorders and substance-abuse disorder. Study participants were 103 adolescents who reported at least 1 substance-use incident within the first 6 months after completing treatment. Each youth had at least one Axis I DSM-III-R disorder. 2 tables and 34 references