Technology-based interventions for substance use and comorbid disorders: An examination of the emerging literature.

10/27/2017

Sugarman DE, Campbell ANC, Iles BR, Greenfield SF. 2017. Technology-based interventions for substance use and comorbid disorders: An examination of the emerging literature. Harvard Review of Psychiatry. 25(3): 123-134. doi: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000148

A search for papers addressing digital interventions for substance use and co-occurring disorders resulted in 14 articles examining nine digital interventions for co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD) and psychiatric disorders. Five digital interventions were evaluated in six randomized controlled trials: SHADE (SUDs and depression), DEAL (young adult depression and alcohol use), VetChange (alcohol use and post-traumatic stress disorder), and two unnamed interventions (depression and SUDs or alcohol use). Two pilot studies discussed DBT Coach (SUDs and borderline personality disorder) and an unnamed digital intervention (SUDs and depression and anxiety). Two papers were study protocols for DEAL (young adult binge drinking and depression), and CLIMATE Schools Combined (prevention of adolescent SUD and depression and anxiety) and one paper described the development of Coming Home and Moving Forward (SUDs and post-traumatic stress disorder). Results of the articles reviewed indicated that more intensive interventions (e.g. SHADE, VetChange) are more effective for treating SUDs and co-occurring psychiatric disorders, compared with briefer interventions (e.g. DEAL). Most interventions addressed alcohol use, depression, or anxiety and researchers emphasized the need for more research focusing on interventions for SUD comorbid with personality or psychotic disorders. Future research should explore novel ways to promote user engagement (e.g. gamification, incentives).