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Computer Software "Therapy" Helps Drug Addicts Avoid Relapse

posted 08:20 AM EST, Fri May 02, 2008
Computer Software "Therapy" Helps Drug Addicts Avoid Relapse © Photo: Bholler

Conventional therapy supplemented with computer assisted therapy works seems to work better than in-person therapy alone.

Drug users, who were given access to a computer assisted therapy program in addition to conventional substance abuse therapies, were far more successful at quitting than addicts who received only conventional therapy – those are the findings published by Yale University researcher Kathleen M Carroll in this month's edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Carroll led a team that designed tested an experimental "counseling" software therapy program. The program was based on cognitive behavioral therapy, and through video, audio and text, taught users better ways to avoid the triggers that lead to drug cravings.

To test the efficacy of the software, 77 people who sought out drug treatment were randomly assigned to either a therapy only, or a therapy and software group. The success of either method was tested by comparing the number of positive drug tests accumulated by each group by the end of the multi month study - and the software using group was more successful.

Caroll says that although cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven a valid tool for substance abuse treatment, it remains seldom used due to the time and training needed to use it. Computer assisted therapy may allow therapists to provide more comprehensive treatments within limited in-person therapeutic sessions.

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