Youth in transition: Study protocol of a prospective cohort study into the long-term course of addiction, mental health problems and social functioning in youth entering addiction treatment

C. Moska, A. E. Goudriaan*, P. Blanken, Dike van de Mheen, R. Spijkerman, A. F. Schellekens, J. M. de Jonge, F. Bary, W.A.M. Vollebergh, V.M. Hendriks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Background
Substance use disorders (SUDs) are prevalent in the general population, tend to follow a chronic course, are associated with many individual and social problems, and often have their onset in adolescence. However, the knowledge base from prospective population surveys and treatment-outcome studies on the course of SUD in adolescents is limited at best. The present study aims to fill this gap and focuses on a subgroup that is particularly at risk for chronicity: adolescents in addiction treatment. We will investigate the rate of persistent SUD and its predictors longitudinally from adolescence to young adulthood among youth with DSM-5 SUD from the start of their addiction treatment to 2 and 4 years following treatment-entry. In addition to SUD, we will investigate the course of comorbid mental disorders, social functioning, and quality of life and their association with SUD over time.

Methods/design
In a naturalistic, multi-center prospective cohort design, we will include youths (n = 420), who consecutively enter addiction treatment at ten participating organizations in the Netherlands. Inclusion is prestratified by treatment organization, to ensure a nationally representative sample. Eligible youths are 16 to 22 years old and seek help for a primary DSM-5 cannabis, alcohol, cocaine or amphetamine use disorder. Assessments focus on lifetime and current substance use and SUD, non-SUD mental disorders, family history, life events, social functioning, treatment history, quality of life, chronic stress indicators (hair cortisol) and neuropsychological tests (computerized executive function tasks) and are conducted at baseline, end of treatment, and 2 and 4 years post-baseline. Baseline data and treatment data (type, intensity, duration) will be used to predict outcome – persistence of or desistance from SUD.

Discussion
There are remarkably few prospective studies worldwide that investigated the course of SUD in adolescents in addiction treatment for longer than 1 year. We are confident that the Youth in Transition study will further our understanding of determinants and consequences of persistent SUD among high-risk adolescents during the critical transition from adolescence to young adulthood.

Trial registration
The Netherlands National Trial Register Trial NL7928. Date of registration January 17, 2019.
Original languageEnglish
Article number605
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Volume21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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