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A Guide to Using Text Messages to Improve Substance Use Treatment Outcomes

Introduction to the Guide

Helping individuals remain in treatment or continue to participate in recovery support services can be difficult. However, with advances in both technology and science, text messages can be used to increase engagement, enhance education about the individualā€™s condition, and help patients manage craving and other negative thoughts/moods. This step-by-step guide contains information for treatment and recovery support providers on how to use text messages to expand the reach of their services. The guide can be used in conjunction with the webinar or as a stand-alone resource.

Below, please find a recorded webinar series that reviewed the evidence on the effectiveness of text reminders and offer tips for providers to use to help patients remain in treatment and/or continue involvement with recovery support services. The downloadable manual will serve as the guide for the series that will demonstrate how to develop different automated texting sequences using a text message service provider platform.


Part I will provide an overview of evidence for the effectiveness of text reminders and tips; describe best practices for developing and sending automated text messages; describe the language of texting; and provide examples of effective text messages for both individual and group sessions.


Part II will include a live demonstration on how to develop an automated texting sequence using a text message service provider and show a basic strategy for organizing and sending batch text messages. Participants will have the opportunity to subscribe and receive these text messages during the presentation.


Please contact the Mountain Plains staff at [email protected] if you have questions or need assistance accessing the guide using the link included on this page. Both the webinar series and guide are available at no cost as part of the Mountain Plains ATTC training/technical assistance services, funded by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) under United States Department of Health and Human Services. 



The Language of Texting Poster:

The Language of Texting Prompt/Reminder Poster was designed for display as 11x17 sized posters. However, we have also created 8.5x11 desk copies for in-house printing. These packages can be downloaded and printed by clicking Download Button above and selecting either the 11x17 Language of Texting Prompt/Reminder Poster or 8.5x11 Language of Texting Prompt/Reminder Sheet.