You’ve probably heard a lot about precision medicine in the news lately. Using information gleaned from genetic and/or molecular profiling, clinicians are able to administer therapeutic treatments that are optimized for their patient population. Delivering help in a way that administers the most profound change.
And, in that same vein, providers are also using a more targeted approach to identify patients who are at risk of developing specific conditions including an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Instead of waiting to deliver the most therapeutic treatments available, they are, instead, seeking to pinpoint those who are at-risk before the disease evolves.
Taking this proactive approach, Patricia Conrod, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montréal conducted a research study designed to correlate personality traits with an increased risk of addiction in teens.
Conrod and her cohorts investigated a research model based on the personality risk for substance abuse in four categories: hopelessness, anxiety sensitivity, impulsivity and sensation seeking behavior.
“If these traits are predictive of who goes on to develop substance use problems, [they] can be used to help people divert their behavior toward more prosocial activity to not expose themselves to substances that cause physical mental and social harm,” Conrod said.
Conrod’s research found that personality profiling can predict teens who are at risk of developing problems, and it can help identify those who can benefit from interventional treatment.
“The difficulty now is finding an implementation model and also putting pressure on government to develop and invest seriously in systems that are going to support prevention. I think that’s the next step in this area in terms of addiction.”
So, what does this research suggest? Given that we’re experiencing an opioid epidemic, perhaps we should invest more time and energy towards prevention. Profiling individuals who are at risk for addiction and delivering the help they need. Helping those who need help the most.
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