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Treating Teens for Depression Can Reduce Odds of Future Drug Abuse

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Treating teenagers for major depression can reduce the odds they will develop a drug use disorder, a new study suggests.

The five-year study included 192 teenagers across the country who were treated for depression for 12 weeks. The teens had no preexisting problems with alcohol or drug abuse. They had major depression before treatment began.

The researchers found that among those whose depression was successfully treated, 10 percent later abused drugs, compared with 25 percent whose depression continued even with treatment, Health24 reports. Treatment methods included cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, a combination of treatments, or a placebo.

Researcher John Curry of Duke University said improved regulation of mood from medication or skills learned in cognitive-behavioral therapy, along with support and education received by all study participants, may have helped keep the teens off drugs.

Depression treatment did not have an effect on alcohol abuse, the researchers were surprised to learn. “It does point out that alcohol use disorders are very prevalent during that particular age period and there’s a need for a lot of prevention and education for college students to avoid getting into heavy drinking and then the beginnings of an alcohol disorder,” Curry said in a news release. “I think that is definitely a take-home message.”

The study is published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

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