CTN Research Brief: Web-based interventions for SUD: Effective for Stimulants, Promising for Alcohol & Marijuana, Not Helpful for Opioids

Web-delivered treatments hold promise for expanding the availability of effective behavioral interventions for substance use disorders. But do they work better for some drugs than others?

The National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network study, �Web-Delivery of Evidence-Based, Psychosocial Treatment for Substance Use Disorders� (CTN-0044) examined the effectiveness of a web-based behavioral treatment intervention called the Therapeutic Education System (TES) as an adjunct to treatment-as-usual (TAU) for substance use disorders (SUD).

Compared with patients in the TAU group, those in the TES group had a lower dropout rate and a greater abstinence rate, demonstrating the potential Internet-delivered interventions like TES have to help bridge the gap between the enormous need for high-quality evidence-based treatments for addiction and the capacity of the treatment system to delivery.

A recent study by Gerald Cochran, Maxine Stitzer, Aimee Campbell, and colleagues sought to determine whether the beneficial effects of TES differed depending on the type of drug participants identified as their primary substance of abuse.

The analysis found that TES seemed to work best for primary stimulant users, who were more likely to be abstinent in the final 4 weeks of treatment compared to stimulant users in the TAU group. Results for alcohol and marijuana were similar to those for stimulants. Abstinence among primary opioid users, however, was not improved by the TES intervention.

Conclusions: This study supports the use of the web-based Therapeutic Education System as a viable intervention for the majority of substance users entering outpatient treatment, with demonstrated effectiveness among stimulant users and promising effects in alcohol and cannabis users, but little or no effect in primary opioid users.

Find out more at the CTN Dissemination Library: http://ctndisseminationlibrary.org/display/1123.htm

Funding for this Addiction Science Made Easy project is provided by the Addiction Technology Transfer Center National Office, under the cooperative agreement from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of SAMHSA.

Articles were written based on the following published research:

Cochran G, et al. Web-Based Treatment for Substance Use Disorders: Differential Effects by Primary Substance. Addictive Behaviors2015;45:191-194.

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