Charles Graham, a clinical social worker and psychologist in the Michigan Medicine Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said this study recognizes the effect of substances on developing brains.
“I think (the study) reinforces what we already know about the influences of substance use in various ways, whether it’s prescribed or done illicitly,” Graham said.
Graham also said therapy could be an important treatment for young people struggling with addiction.
“What we do offer to young people is individual therapy and group therapy that focuses on relapse prevention,” Graham said. “In addition, we offer family therapy because many young people are in the context of families, and it’s hard to provide isolating treatment without including the social context in which young people often are interacting. It helps to educate families about… how addiction may look, so that they can be aware of it and responsive.”
According to Graham, high-risk individuals could use third-party “gatekeepers,” who monitor individuals’ medication use, to help manage their prescribed medications and prevent overuse.
“(Gatekeepers) allow for an additional buffer to help monitor individuals who may be prone to addictive behavior,” Graham said. “When medication is prescribed for people, you automatically are given implied permission to use it. If a person has an addiction issue, it may give them permission without reservation, so it helps to have an additional person around that says, ‘okay, we’re going to lock it away or monitor so that it’s not used abusively.'”