Attentional Bias Modification Training as add-on to regular treatment in alcohol and cannabis use disorder
Heightened attentional capture of substance-related cues in the environment (i.e., attentional bias), has been found to contribute to the persistence of addiction. Attentional bias modification (ABM) might, therefore, increase positive treatment outcome and the reduction of relapse rates. Based on some promising research findings, we designed a study to test the clinical relevance of ABM as an add-on component of treatment as usual (TAU) for alcohol and cannabis patients.
We investigated the effectiveness of a newly developed home-delivered, multi-session, internet-based ABM intervention. Therefore, participants (N = 169), diagnosed with alcohol or cannabis use disorder, were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: TAU+ABM; TAU+placebo condition; TAU-only. Participants of all conditions completed pre-, post-, and 6 and 12 months follow-up measures of attentional bias, as well as of substance use and craving allowing to assess long-term treatment success and rates of relapse. Further, secondary physical and psychological complaints (depression, anxiety, and stress) were assessed. Participants in the TAU+ABM and the TAU+placebo condition completed their training sessions at home throughout the duration of TAU. Therapists motivated participants to continue the training.
This randomized controlled trial is the first to investigate whether an internet-based ABM intervention is effective in reducing relapse rates in alcohol and cannabis use disorder as an add-on to TAU, compared with an active and a waiting list control group. The results of this trial will be presented during the Lisbon Addictions 2019.