Background: Despite the importance and popularity of mutual support groups, there have been no systematic attempts to implement and evaluate routine outcome monitoring (ROM) in these settings. Unlike other mutual support groups for addiction, trained facilitators lead all Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery) groups, thereby providing an opportunity to implement ROM as a routine component of SMART Recovery groups.
Objective: This study protocol aims to describe a stage 1 pilot study designed to explore the feasibility and acceptability of a novel, purpose-built mobile health (mHealth) ROM and feedback app (Smart Track) in SMART Recovery groups coordinated by SMART Recovery Australia (SRAU) The secondary objectives are to describe Smart Track usage patterns, explore psychometric properties of the ROM items (ie, internal reliability and convergent and divergent validity), and provide preliminary evidence for participant reported outcomes (such as alcohol and other drug use, self-reported recovery, and mental health).
Methods: Participants (n=100) from the SMART Recovery groups across New South Wales, Australia, will be recruited to a nonrandomized, prospective, single-arm trial of the Smart Track app. There are 4 modes of data collection: (1) ROM data collected from group participants via the Smart Track app, (2) data analytics summarizing user interactions with Smart Track, (3) quantitative interview and survey data of group participants (baseline, 2-week follow-up, and 2-month follow-up), and (4) qualitative interviews with group participants (n=20) and facilitators (n=10). Feasibility and acceptability (primary objectives) will be analyzed using descriptive statistics, a cost analysis, and a qualitative evaluation.
Results: At the time of submission, 13 sites (25 groups per week) had agreed to be involved. Funding was awarded on August 14, 2017, and ethics approval was granted on April 26, 2018 (HREC/18/WGONG/34; 2018/099). Enrollment is due to commence in July 2019. Data collection is due to be finalized in October 2019.
Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to use ROM and tailored feedback within a mutual support group setting for addictive behaviors. Our study design will provide an opportunity to identify the acceptability of a novel mHealth ROM and feedback app within this setting and provide detailed information on what factors promote or hinder ROM usage within this context. This project aims to offer a new tool, should Smart Track prove feasible and acceptable, that service providers, policy makers, and researchers could use in the future to understand the impact of SMART Recovery groups.
A recently completed Cochrane review assessed the effectiveness and cost-benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and clinically delivered 12-Step Facilitation (TSF) interventions for alcohol use disorder (AUD). This paper summarizes key findings and discusses implications for practice and policy.
Cochrane review methods were followed. Searches were conducted across all major databases (e.g. Cochrane Drugs and Alcohol Group Specialized Register, PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO and ClinicalTrials.gov) from inception to 2 August 2019 and included non-English language studies. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experiments that compared AA/TSF with other interventions, such as motivational enhancement therapy (MET) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), TSF treatment variants or no treatment, were included. Healthcare cost offset studies were also included. Studies were categorized by design (RCT/quasi-experimental; nonrandomized; economic), degree of manualization (all interventions manualized versus some/none) and comparison intervention type (i.e. whether AA/TSF was compared to an intervention with a different theoretical orientation or an AA/TSF intervention that varied in style or intensity). Random-effects meta-analyses were used to pool effects where possible using standard mean differences (SMD) for continuous outcomes (e.g. percent days abstinent (PDA)) and the relative risk ratios (RRs) for dichotomous.
A total of 27 studies (21 RCTs/quasi-experiments, 5 nonrandomized and 1 purely economic study) containing 10,565 participants were included. AA/TSF interventions performed at least as well as established active comparison treatments (e.g. CBT) on all outcomes except for abstinence where it often outperformed other treatments. AA/TSF also demonstrated higher health care cost savings than other AUD treatments.
AA/TSF interventions produce similar benefits to other treatments on all drinking-related outcomes except for continuous abstinence and remission, where AA/TSF is superior. AA/TSF also reduces healthcare costs. Clinically implementing one of these proven manualized AA/TSF interventions is likely to enhance outcomes for individuals with AUD while producing health economic benefits.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and related social distancing public health recommendations will have indirect consequences for individuals with current and remitted substance use disorder (SUD). Not only will stressors increase risk for symptom exacerbation and/or relapse, but individuals will also have limited service access during this critical time. Individuals with SUD are using free, online digital recovery support services (D-RSS) that leverage peer-to-peer connection (i.e., social-online D-RSS) which simultaneously help these individuals to access support and adhere to public health guidelines. Barriers to SUD treatment and recovery support service access, however, are not unique to the COVID-19 epoch. The pandemic creates an opportunity to highlight problems that will persist beyond its immediate effects, and to offer potential solutions that might help address these long-standing, systemic issues. To help providers and other key stakeholders effectively support those interested in, or who might benefit from, participation in free, social-online D-RSS, this review outlines the following: 1) theories of expected therapeutic benefits from, and potential drawbacks of social-online D-RSS participation; 2) a typology that can be used to describe and classify D-RSS; 3) a D-RSS "case study" to illustrate how to apply the theory and typology; 4) what is known empirically about social-online D-RSS; and 5) whether and how to engage individuals with these online resources.
Method: Narrative review combining research and theory on both in-person recovery supports and social-online D-RSS.
Results: Studies examining in-person recovery support services, such as AA and other mutual-help organizations, combined with theory about how social-online D-RSS might confer benefit, suggest these digital supports may engage individuals with SUD and mobilize salutary change in similar ways. While people may use in-person and digital supports simultaneously, when comparing the two modalities, communication science and telemedicine group therapy data suggest that D-RSS may not provide the same magnitude of benefit as in-person services. D-RSS can be classified based on the a) type of service, b) type of platform, c) points of access, and d) organizations responsible for their delivery. Research has not yet rigorously tested the effectiveness of social-online D-RSS specifically, though existing data suggest that those who use these services generally find their participation to be helpful. Content analyses suggest that these services are likely to facilitate social support and unlikely to expose individuals to harmful situations.
Background: Nicotine addiction through cigarette use is highly prevalent among individuals suffering from alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems and remains a prominent risk factor for morbidity, mortality, and healthcare utilization. Whereas most people agree that providing smoking cessation services (SCS) to this vulnerable population is vitally important, the timing of such service provision has been hotly debated, including whether such services should be excluded, available (but not offered), offered, or fully integrated into AOD treatment settings. Important stakeholders in this debate are those in recovery from AOD problems who, in addition to having often been AOD treatment patients themselves, frequently hold influential clinical, research or policy positions and thus can influence the likelihood of SCS provision. This study sought to understand the attitudes of this important stakeholder group in providing SCS in AOD treatment settings.
Method: We assessed a national cross-sectional sample of individuals in recovery from an AOD problem (n = 1973) on whether SCS should be: a. excluded; b. available; c. offered; or d. integrated into AOD services. We estimated associations between participants' demographic, clinical, and recovery support service use history, and SCS attitude variables, using multinomial logistic regression.
Results: Roughly equal proportions endorsed each attitudinal position (23.5% excluded, 25% available, 24.6% offered; 26.9% integrated). Correlates of holding more positive SCS implementation attitudes were Black race; primary substance other than alcohol, greater intensity of former or recent smoking, and less mutual-help organization participation; older individuals achieving recovery between 30 and 40 years ago also had more positive attitudes toward integrating SCS.
Conclusions: About half of those sampled were either against SCS inclusion in AOD settings or were in favor of making it "available" only, but not in offering it or integrating it. This oppositional pattern was accentuated particularly among those with primary alcohol problem histories and those participating in mutual-help organizations. Given the universally well-known negative health effects of smoking, understanding more about the exact reasons why certain groups of recovering persons may endorse such positions is an area worthy of further investigation, as it may uncover potential barriers to SCS implementation in AOD treatment settings.
Background: 12 step mutual help groups are widely accessed by people with drug use disorder but infrequently subjected to rigorous evaluation. Pooling randomized trials containing a condition in which mutual help group attendance is actively facilitated presents an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of 12 step groups in large, diverse samples of drug use disorder patients.
Methods: Data from six federally-funded randomized trials were pooled (n = 1730) and subjected to two-stage instrumental variables modelling, and, fixed and random effects regression models. All trials included a 12 step group facilitation condition and employed the Addiction Severity Index as a core measure.
Results: The ability of 12 step facilitation to increase mutual help group participation among drug use disorder patients was minimal, limiting ability to employ two-stage instrumental variable models that correct for selection bias. However, traditional fixed and random effect regression models found that greater 12 step mutual help group attendance by drug use disorder patients predicted reduced use of and problems with illicit drugs and also with alcohol.
Conclusion: Facilitating significant and lasting involvement in 12 step groups may be more challenging for drug use disorder patients than for alcohol use disorder patients, which has important implications for clinical work and for effectiveness evaluations. Though selection bias could explain part of the results of traditional regression models, the finding that participation in 12 step mutual help groups predicts lower illicit drug and alcohol use and problems in a large, diverse, sample of drug use disorder patients is encouraging.
For people with current and remitted substance use disorder (SUD), the COVID-19 pandemic increases risk for symptom exacerbation and relapse through added stressors and reduced service access. In response, mutual-help groups and recovery community organizations have increased access to online recovery support meetings. However, rigorous studies examining online recovery support meeting participation to inform best practices have not yet been conducted. In the absence of such studies, a review of relevant literature, considered in context of potential barriers and drawbacks, suggests the risk-to-benefit ratio is favorable. Particularly given limited in-person SUD service access resulting from COVID-19 precautions, online recovery support meetings may help mitigate a key public health problem during an ongoing, public health pandemic.