Technology-Based Interventions for Substance Use and Comorbid Disorders: An Examination of the Emerging Literature

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Abstract

Among individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs), comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders is common and often noted as the rule rather than the exception. Standard care that provides integrated treatment for comorbid diagnoses simultaneously has been shown to be effective. Technology-based interventions (TBIs) have the potential to provide a cost-effective platform for, and greater accessibility to, integrated treatments. For the purposes of this review, we defined TBIs as interventions in which the primary targeted aim was delivered by automated computer, Internet, or mobile system with minimal to no live therapist involvement. A search of the literature identified nine distinct TBIs for SUDs and comorbid disorders. An examination of this limited research showed promise, particularly for TBIs that address problematic alcohol use, depression, or anxiety. Additional randomized, controlled trials of TBIs for comorbid SUDs and for anxiety and depression are needed, as is future research developing TBIs that address SUDs and comorbid eating disorders and psychotic disorders. Ways of leveraging the full capabilities of what technology can offer should also be further explored.

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