Marijuana Dependence Researcher: Important to Focus on Teens

A drug used to treat liver toxicity in Tylenol overdoses may be helpful in treating teens dependent on marijuana, when it is combined with behavioral therapy, according to an expert speaking at the recent American Psychiatric Association annual meeting. The drug is one of a number of new treatments being tested for marijuana dependence, but is the only one so far tested solely in adolescents.

“Young people should be a particular focus of treatment for marijuana dependence,” says researcher Kevin M. Gray, M.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. “We want to treat it early, before a lot of serious outcomes occur when they transition to adulthood.”

His placebo-controlled study of the drug, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), found it was effective when given to teens who were dependent on marijuana. The 116 teens in the study also received weekly, brief skills-based counseling and received compensation for having drug-free urine tests, through an intervention called contingency management, said Dr. Gray, who published the results last year in the American Journal of Psychiatry. He is now setting up a similar study of NAC in marijuana-dependent adults. Both studies are funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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Quantum Units Continuing Education provides online CEU training's to licensed professional mental health therapists, counselors, social workers and nurses. Our blog provides updates in the field of news and research related to mental health and substance abuse treatment.