Effects of Attention-Control Training on detoxified drug abusers' attentional bias and other treatment indices
Implicit cognitions, especially attentional bias for drug-related stimuli, have been shown to reduce chances of remaining abstinent after successful detoxification. We tested the feasibility of attentional retraining using the Drug Attention Control Training Program (Drug-ACTP). Participants were detoxified drug abusers (N = 87) who were randomly assigned to training (three sessions with the Drug-ACTP) or a control group. Participants completed the Drug Abuse Temptation Questionnaire, Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), Situational Confidence Questionnaire (SCQ), Readiness to Change Questionnaire (RTCQ), classic and drug-related Stroop tests, and a demographic questionnaire. Moreover, participants’ salivation was recorded while they were exposed to drug or neutral stimuli. All participants were retested at post-training and one month later. A six-month telephone interview was also conducted, during which their temptation to use, lapses and relapses, and medication taken were monitored, and they completed the SCQ, RTCQ, PANAS, and PSS.
Compared to the control condition, training with the Drug-ACTP reduced each of the following indices of outcome: drug-related attentional bias and perceived stress at post-treatment and the first follow-up; temptation to use and negative affect at post-treatment and the six-month follow-up; medication taken at the six-month follow-up; and the number of relapses at the one- and six-month follow-ups. Moreover, at post-treatment and the six-month follow-up, these reductions were accompanied by an increase in confidence to resist using in response to social problems at work and in positive social situations.
We suggest the inclusion of attentional bias retraining programs as complimentary interventions into customary treatment programs for drug abuse.