Study to explore treatment in early stages of addiction for young adults

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As part of IU’s response to the addiction crisis, a new study from the IU School of Education will test cognitive behavioral therapy intervention for young adults suffering from alcohol or drug addiction.

Participants from IU and the community who are deemed eligible are randomized into one of two conditions, cognitive-behavioral therapy or counseling provided by the Center for Human Growth. The course of counseling ranges from 8 to 10 sessions, including a follow-up with participants after three and six months. Ellen Vaughan, Associate Professor in Counseling and Educational Psychology, and Lynn Gilman, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Human Growth, are co-investigators in the study. In addition to testing a specific intervention, they are hoping to increase access to counseling for young adults who want to make changes in their alcohol and drug use.

Getting access to care early in the development of substance use problems is important to decrease the long-term impact on one’s mental health. The more research we do on counseling interventions for a variety of problems, the more we know about how to best help people.

Ellen Vaughan

“Substance use disorders are among the most common mental health problems people face,” Vaughan said. “For young adults, they are especially prevalent. Getting access to care early in the development of substance use problems is important to decrease the long-term impact on one’s mental health. The more research we do on counseling interventions for a variety of problems, the more we know about how to best help people.”

Concerns for those suffering from addiction have only continued to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the CDC has noted overdoses are increasing. Vaughan noted the pandemic can be a barrier to care: “Social distancing is interrupting support from important people. The pandemic also represents a source of chronic stress, and using substances is a way that people cope.”

This study is funded by IU’s Bicentennial Grand Challenge focusing on addiction. It aligns in the aims of bringing attention to the pervasiveness of substance use disorders in communities, as well as de-stigmatizing seeking help.

Work on the study will continue through 2022 and possibly into 2023. Anyone interested in participating can visit go.iu.edu/prevlab or email prevlab@indiana.edu directly.

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