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Technological Innovations in Addiction Treatment


Budney AJ, Borodovsky JT, Marsch LA, Lord SE


The authors reviewed the state of technology in the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs), highlighting well validated interventions and considerations for implementation.


Promise of Technology: Technology has the potential to address current gaps in treatment access and response, particularly for SUDS. Technology is increasingly ubiquitous, even among disadvantaged and hard to reach populations. As such, technology can facilitate access to health care by reducing barriers related to distance, time, and cost and reduce the demand on specialty SUD care providers. A large and growing body of research indicates that technology-based interventions for SUDs can be as effective as clinician-delivered treatments, with effect sizes in the small to medium range. An emerging literature is examining mechanisms by which technology-based interventions work.


Considerations for Implementation: Implementation science frameworks highlight considerations for implementation of digital SUD treatment including organizational and external contexts (e.g., workflow, local access to technology), end-user characteristics (e.g., perceptions of digital health, perceptions of optimal care), and intervention characteristics (e.g., aging technology platforms, strength of supporting evidence). Challenges in implementation can be specific to digital health or true of implementation of traditional intervention approaches.

  • Digital health for SUD treatment needs to emphasize efficacy, scientific rigor, relevance to end-users, integration with healthcare settings, and economics.
  • Digital approaches show potential to effectively treat substance use in a way that is acceptable and accessible to consumers and providers.
  • Digital health can leverage large data sets from mobile devices and social media and innovative analytic approaches using machine learning.
  • Future research should work towards developing digital interventions that yield larger effect sizes.
Read More

Budney AJ, Borodovsky JT, Marsch LA, Lord SE. Technological Innovations in Addiction Treatment. In: Danovitch I, Mooney LJ eds. The Assessment and Treatment of Addiction: Best Practices and New Frontiers. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier; 2019:75-90.