It is well documented that adolescents that abuse drugs, including those who meet criteria for a Substance Use Disorder (SUD), frequently suffer from at least one other mental health or behavioral disorder (Kaminer, 2013). Among youth with a SUD, it is common for at least one mental or behavioral disorder to co-occur (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014). The nature of the substance abuse and SUD-co-occurring disorder association is complex. One model points to the role of adolescent drug use as a contributor to an elevated risk of a mental or behavioral problem. Another major conceptual model is that childhood-onset mental disorders precede drug use, and that drug use also complicates the trajectory of the mental disorder. In this light, these early-onset internalizing or externalizing problems contribute to psychological, social and other contextual functional triggers to use substances. No training program in NIDA?s current portfolio has adolescent SUD and co-occurring behavioral/mental health disorders as a primary focus. The proposed T32 training program will include a diverse range of research faculty with considerable expertise in mentoring, administration, and research in adolescent substance abuse, SUD and related mental health disorders. Training will focus on the mentors? research that address etiology, prevention, intervention and treatment. The program, which will accommodate cohorts of three predoctoral trainees (during years 3-5 of their graduate program) and cohorts of three postdoctoral trainees (for 2 years each), will train a total of 15 predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows over the five-year period. The training will be characterized by rigorous program leadership, rich and varied training experiences and resources, administration, oversight and continuous monitoring from the Training Steering Committee, updating of trainee resources, and the annual convening of an External Advisory Committee. Trainees and a Primary Mentor, with additional assistance from an Affiliated Faculty, will develop a personalized training roadmap via an Individual Development Plan (IDP). The IDP will provide the trainee guidelines as to advance research knowledge and skills pertaining to at least one of these four content domains: (1) developmental psychopathology, (2) preventive interventions and dissemination, (3) treatment and dissemination, and (4) health services practices and implementation. In sum, the proposed T32 training program at FIU includes all the essential ingredients for successful training across the spectrum of research activities associated with adolescent SUD and co-occurring disorders, and the program will serve as a national example of a training ground for young investigators in this field.
The nature of the association between adolescent substance use disorders (SUD) and co- occurring behavioral/mental disorders is complex. The primary focus of the proposed T32 program at FIU will be training of predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees in research related to adolescent SUD and co-occurring behavioral/mental health disorders. The training program will include a diverse range of research faculty with considerable expertise in mentoring, administration, and research pertaining to the etiology, intervention and treatment with respect to this topic area.