Addiction Research: New Study Supports Early Treatment

Father and sonIt’s a common myth that treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction isn’t really needed until the individual has hit rock-bottom.

And, work recently published by two UConn Health Researchers has refuted that misconception. Serving as guest editors for a special issue of the scientific journal, Addiction, Thomas Babor and Frances Del Boca conducted a meta-analysis of prior research reports.

After combing the data, they found that individuals exhibiting a few of the early symptoms of addiction, profoundly benefitted from early interventional care – helping them to course correct their behavior and reduce their risk of developing a full-blown addiction.

“Brief intervention refers to any time-limited effort, maybe one or two conversations or meetings, to provide information or advice, increase motivation to avoid substance abuse, or to teach behavior change skills that will reduce substance abuse as well as the chances of negative consequences,” says Babor, the Health Net Inc. Endowed Chair in Community Medicine and Public Health in the UConn School of Medicine.

Babor and Del Boca found substance abusers are far more likely to curtail their dangerous behaviors when a primary care physician refers them to treatment (if needed) after a brief screening incorporated into routine office visits.

“The idea of translating research into practice is a hope that is seldom realized in addiction science,” says assistant professor Bonnie McRee, one of the report authors. “To go from the development of screening tests to national implementation programs in the course of 20 years is a dream come true for an addiction scientist.”

Based this addiction research, the findings suggest that there is an opportunity to expand the use of addiction screenings to help prevent the disease of addiction from progressing in high-risk individuals. By identifying individuals early and helping them access addiction treatment quickly, it can help serve as a powerful tool in the fight against drug and alcohol addiction.

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