m-Health among illicit drug users: effectiveness, differential indication, risks and negative effects and ongoing developments among guided and unguided interventions
Background: There are some first meta-analyses available on internet interventions for the prevention of illicit drug use/misuse and the treatment of illicit drug misuse and dependence. However, most of the available interventions and particularly those based on Apps have never been tested for potential risks and effectiveness.
Methods: Based on two meta-analyses and three three-arm RCTs as well as an EMCDDA literature and App store review report this speech aims at presenting the very latest comprehensive overview of the acceptance and effectiveness, differential indication, risks and negative effects among guided and unguided internet interventions as well as Apps in illicit substance users, misusers and dependent users.
Results: The acceptance on the misusers’ side is comparatively high but there is still remaining resistance in some professionals. The present meta-analyses resulted in highly significant low to moderate pooled effect sizes but there are differential results among guided vs. unguided as well as on add-on internet interventions for cannabis, stimulant, street-opioid and polydrug misusers that will be reported in detail at the speech. Although risks of severe withdrawal symptoms were neglectable in the reported three RCTs, there are potential negative effects like the preference for online instead of effective medical treatments or social isolation.
Conclusions: Although the technical and public health potential of internet interventions and Apps is enormous and the first meta-analyses mainly based on internet interventions are very positive, there is a clear demand for differential indications and new studies involving particularly new App technologies. Potential negative effects need to be considered much more.