Background: In a recent paper, we reported the efficacy of a modular cognitive-behavioral intervention for treating adolescents and adults with cannabis use disorders (CUD). In this study, we examine the outcome of this intervention after translating it into clinical practice.
Methods: A multi-site, randomized controlled trial of 279 treatment seekers with ICD-10 cannabis use disorders aged 16- 63 years was conducted in 11 outpatient addiction treatment centers in Germany. Patients were randomly assigned to an Active Treatment (AT, n=149) or Delayed Treatment Control (DTC, n=130). Treatment consisted of 10 sessions of fully manualized individual psychotherapy that combined Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Motivational EnhancementTherapy and problem-solving training. Assessments were conducted at baseline, during each therapy session, at post-treatment and at three and six month follow-ups.
Results: At post assessment 53.3% of AT patients reported abstinence (46.3% negative urine screenings) compared to 22% of DTC patients (17.7% negative drug screenings) (p<0.001, Intention-to-treat analysis). AT patients improved in the frequency of cannabis use, number of cannabis dependence criteria, severity of dependence, as well as number and severity of cannabis-related problems. Effect sizes were moderate to high. While abstinence rates in the AT group decreased over the 3-month (negative urine screenings: 32.4%) and 6-month (negative urine screenings: 35.7%) follow-up periods, the effects in secondary outcomes were maintained.
Conclusions: The intervention can successfully be translated to and applied in clinical practice. It has the potential to improve access to evidence-based care for chronic CUD patients.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00673647.
Keywords: CBT; Cannabis; MET; RCT; Translational research; Treatment.
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