Addiction treatment program using text messaging yields positive results

A pilot study published in the American Journal of Addiction found that adolescents in six- and nine-month addiction treatment aftercare were less likely to use drugs again if they participated in a mobile texting recovery support intervention for a 12-week period.

UCLA researchers led by Rachel Gonzales, Ph.D., recruited 80 adolescents from drug treatment programs located throughout Southern California to participate in an aftercare program called ESQYIR (Educating and Supporting inQuisitive Youth in Recovery) between 2012 and 2014. The subjects, who were between 12 and 17 years old, were randomized into two groups: a mobile texting aftercare intervention, and a standard aftercare control group.

Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the study’s 80 participants must have owned a cellular phone with SMS capabilities, been given parental consent to participate in ESQYIR, and have completed an addiction treatment such as cognitive/prevention behavioral group therapy that lasted between 12 and 16 weeks.

The results revealed that adolescents who engaged in the texting program were less inclined to positively test for drug use in comparison to those in standard aftercare throughout the six- and nine-month followups.

Also, adolescents in the texting group showed considerably higher levels of confidence and self-efficacy to abstain from substance abuse while in addiction treatment and were also more prone to engage in recovery-related practices such as goal-focused and self-help activities, compared with the adolescents in standard aftercare at the six- and nine-month follow-ups.

Texting intervention participants at the six-month follow-ups were 54.1 percent less likely to abuse their primary drug in comparison to 28.6 percent of standard aftercare participants at the six-month mark. At nine-month follow-ups, texting intervention participants also showed promise at 42.9 percent, versus 14.7 percent.

The 12-week text-based aftercare intervention consisted of daily texts guided by a wellness recovery model for substance use disorders. The program utilized a web-based platform, which was previously programmed for several interventions tools: monitoring, feedback, reminders and support/education.

The texts, sent late in the afternoon, questioned participants on… (continue reading)