A systematic review of Internet-based therapy for the treatment of addictions

Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Apr;31(3):490-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2010.11.007. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


Traditional therapies for addictions are underutilized and characterized by high attrition rates suggesting they may not meet the needs of a proportion of individuals with addiction-related problems including problem drinking, smoking, substance use and problem gambling. Internet-based therapy has emerged as a new treatment modality for psychological disorders and health issues and this review is the first attempt to summarize and evaluate the evidence of the effectiveness of Internet therapy for addictions. Extensive literature searches were conducted to identify studies meeting the criteria of delivering structured Internet-based treatment programs for addictions that incorporated a component of trained therapist interaction. Only nine studies met criteria for inclusion with seven representing a randomized controlled trial. These included seven papers reporting on tobacco-cessation programs, one Internet-based therapy for pathological gambling, and one treatment program for substance abuse. A range of therapeutic models, treatment components and outcome measures was included across these studies. Positive treatment effects were reported following completion of therapy and at longer-term follow-up. The review concluded that Internet-based therapies for addictions are effective in achieving positive behavioral changes but that more research is required to determine the comparative effectiveness of various Internet-based therapies and their components.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / therapy*
  • Gambling / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Telemedicine*
  • Treatment Outcome