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Computer-Delivered Psychosocial Intervention for Adolescent Substance Use Disorders

Funding Source

NIDA, R01DA021818

Project Period

8/1/09 - 4/30/13

Principal Investigator

Lisa A. Marsch, PhD

Other Project Staff

Michelle C. Acosta, PhD (Co-I, Project Manager)

Project Summary

Substance use among youth remains a major public health problem. About half of all 12th graders have tried an illicit drug and over 72% of this same age group have used alcohol. Rates of abuse of prescription opioids among youth are estimated to have increased about 542% in the U.S. in the past decade. Although effective substance abuse treatment programs for youth exist, they are currently of limited reach. Only 1 in 10 adolescents who need substance abuse treatment receive any care. An interactive, computer-delivered psychosocial (skills-training) intervention has the potential to address these challenges, as it allows for complex interventions to be delivered at a low cost, without increasing demands on staff time or training needs. It may also be highly acceptable to youth and enable widespread dissemination of science-based treatment in a manner that ensures fidelity.

In this project, we have developed and are evaluating the acceptability and preliminary efficacy of a web-based, skills training program for adolescents with substance use disorders. The content of this program is based on a model of psychosocial substance abuse treatment for youth that has been shown to be effective in prior scientific research. It is provided via an interactive, delivery system that employs informational technologies that are effective in promoting relevant knowledge and skills. Adolescents in substance abuse treatment along with experts in adolescent substance abuse treatment helped shape the development of this program.

Public Health Relevance

To our knowledge, this program will be the first interactive program to provide comprehensive, psychosocial substance abuse treatment to adolescents via computer-based technology. This research will contribute new information relevant to increasing the delivery of science-based psychosocial treatment to adolescents with substance use disorders in a manner that is cost-effective and which may promote the adoption of effective treatment.