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• We conducted a secondary analysis of adolescents enrolled in a placebo-controlled trial of NAC for cannabis use disorder.
• Pretreatment impulsivity was assessed using the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale.
• Low pretreatment impulsivity was associated with increased abstinence rates.
• High medication adherence was associated with increased abstinence rates.
BackgroundIn light of recent progress toward pharmacologic interventions to treat adolescent cannabis use disorder, it is important to consider which adolescent characteristics may be associated with a favorable response to treatment. This study presents secondary analyses from a parent randomized controlled trial of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in adolescents with cannabis use disorder. We hypothesized that high pretreatment impulsivity and medication non-adherence would be associated with reduced abstinence rates.MethodsParticipants were treatment-seeking adolescents (N = 115) who met criteria for cannabis use disorder and were assessed for pretreatment impulsivity. They received 1200 mg NAC or placebo orally twice daily for 8 weeks. An intent-to-treat analysis using a repeated-measures logistic regression model was used to relate pretreatment impulsivity (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale) and treatment group to abstinence rates, measured by urine cannabinoid tests. To explore mechanisms by which NAC may reduce cannabis use, relationships between impulsivity, adherence, and abstinence were assessed in a second statistical model using data from participants with recorded adherence and urine cannabinoid test results (n = 54).ResultsIn the intent-to-treat analysis, low pretreatment impulsivity, NAC treatment, and negative baseline urine cannabinoid test results independently increased the odds of having negative urine cannabinoid tests during treatment (OR = 2.1, 2.3, and 5.3 respectively). In the sample of participants with adherence data (n = 54), adherence tripled the odds of abstinence. Notably, the effect of adherence on abstinence was only observed in the NAC treatment group. Lastly, although the highly impulsive participants had reduced rates of abstinence, highly impulsive individuals adherent to NAC treatment had increased abstinence rates compared to non-adherent individuals.ConclusionLow impulsivity, NAC treatment, medication adherence, and baseline negative cannabinoid testing were associated with increased rates of abstinence in adolescents seeking treatment for cannabis use disorder. Efforts to optimize pharmacotherapy adherence may be particularly crucial for highly impulsive individuals. Understanding and addressing factors, such as impulsivity and adherence, which may affect outcomes, may aid in the successful evaluation and development of potentially promising pharmacotherapies.
Journal: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment - Volume 63, April 2016, Pages 72–77