Questions about Medications to Treat Adolescent Drug Use

Questions about Medications to Treat  Adolescent Drug Use

Reprinted from the National Institute of Drug Abuse by Tom Wilson Counseling Center offering online substance abuse education for adults and adolescents.

13. Are there medications to treat adolescent substance abuse?

Several medications are approved by the FDA to treat addiction to opioids, alcohol, and nicotine in individuals 18 and older. In most cases, little research has been conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of these medications for adolescents; however, some health care providers do use these medications “off-label,” especially in older adolescents.

14. Do girls and boys have different treatment needs?

Adolescent girls and boys may have different developmental and social issues that may call for different treatment strategies or emphases.

For example, girls with substance use disorders may be more likely to also have mood disorders such as depression or to have experienced physical or sexual abuse.

Boys with substance use disorders are more likely to also have conduct, behavioral, and learning problems, which may be very disruptive to their school, family, or community. Treatments should take into account the higher rate of internalizing and traumatic stress disorders among adolescent girls, the higher rate of externalizing disruptive disorders and juvenile justice problems among adolescent boys, and other gender differences that may play into adolescent substance use disorders.