Medications for Substance Use and Relapse Prevention

  • Christopher J. HammondEmail author
  • Pravesh Sharma


Adolescent substance use disorders (SUDs) are difficult to treat and associated with negative functional and health outcomes. Even with the use of evidence-based psychosocial interventions, many youth drop out of treatment or relapse within 6 months of treatment engagement. Medications for addiction treatment (MAT, formerly known as medication-assisted treatments), or the use of other adjunctive pharmacotherapy in conjunction with psychosocial interventions, have demonstrated effectiveness in improving adult SUD treatment outcomes. Only a few controlled pharmacotherapy trials have been completed in adolescents to date. Results have been mixed, with some medications showing promise and others showing no benefit over psychosocial treatment alone. Nicotine replacement therapy and bupropion for tobacco, N-acetylcysteine for cannabis, and buprenorphine-naloxone for opioid use disorders have shown early promise in improving youth SUD treatment outcomes when combined with psychosocial interventions. Providers may consider trialing addiction pharmacotherapies in youth who fail to improve with psychosocial treatments or who have additional negative prognostic factors.


Buprenorphine Naltrexone Methadone Acamprosate Disulfiram Bupropion Varenicline Nicotine replacement products 


Source of Funding

AACAP and NIH research funding K12DA000357 (Hammond).


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Suggested Reading

  1. Hammond CJ. The role of pharmacotherapy in the treatment of adolescent substance use disorders. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2016;25(4):685–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hammond CJ, Gray KM. Pharmacotherapy for substance use disorders in youths. J Child Adolesc Subst Abuse. 2016;25(4):292–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral Pharmacology Research UnitJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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