Effects of Attention Control Training on Drug Abusers’ Attentional Bias and Treatment Outcome

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Objective: Attentional bias for drug-related stimuli (Drug-AB) has been shown to play an important role in drug abuse, drug treatment, and relapse. This study sought to retrain Drug-AB using the Drug Attention Control Training Program (Drug-ACTP) on a sample of Iranian drug abusers. Method: The experimental group (n = 24) received 3 sessions of training with the Drug-ACTP in addition to treatment as usual; the control group (n = 24) received only treatment as usual. All participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the drug-Stroop test, measures of physiological cue reactivity, the Personal Concerns Inventory (a measure of motivational structure), Persian Temptation Scale, Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), Situational Confidence Questionnaire (SCQ), and Readiness to Change Questionnaire (RTCQ). All participants were tested at baseline, posttraining, and a 2-month follow-up. A brief, 6-month telephone follow-up was also conducted to monitor their temptation, SCQ, RTCQ, PANAS, and PSS scores; doses of medicine taken; and number of lapses. Results: The results showed that, compared to the control group, the experimental group showed (a) reductions in Drug-AB, temptations to use, doses of medicine, and number of lapses; and (b) increases on the RTCQ and 2 subscales of the SCQ. Regardless of group membership, adaptive motivation was positively correlated with success in achieving therapeutic goals, and negatively associated with doses of methadone taken and number of relapses. Conclusions: It seems that attentional training can be an important addition to methadone maintenance therapy.

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