August 16, 2007

Children's mental health, substance abuse association studied

Research is underway at Rutgers University that seeks to examine links between children's mental health problems and alcohol, nicotine, and illegal drug use over time. It is very common for people who have schizophrenia to also suffer from addictions - and this new research is targeted at better understanding this problem.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant is to Professor Marmorstein at Rutgers University to further her research on how children’s anxiety and depression may be associated with substance abuse throughout adulthood.

“Children can show symptoms of depression and anxiety at very young ages, and some youth smoke, drink, and use drugs as well. A better understanding of the associations between these problems will help us more effectively prevent and treat them. If we can get youth on a trajectory of healthy emotional and behavioral development, they are at reduced risk for psychiatric and substance abuse problems as adults,” says Marmorstein.

During the next five years, Marmorstein will seek to pinpoint crucial differences between types of internalizing disorders, like generalized anxiety and social anxiety, to examine whether these problems relate to substance abuse in different ways.

“We have known for a long time that some people who have depression or anxiety drink alcohol or use drugs to cope with those unpleasant feelings; this is called the ‘self-medication’ model of substance abuse. However, there is also some evidence that heavy substance use may predict internalizing disorders, rather than the other way around. It is time to apply the advances we have made in research methodologies in order to better understand these associations,” says Marmorstein.

The results of the Rutgers-Camden research could be used by those who work with at-risk children to create programs that help these vulnerable young clients as effectively as possible.

Source: Rutgers University


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