Computer-assisted behavioral therapy and contingency management for cannabis use disorder

Psychol Addict Behav. 2015 Sep;29(3):501-11. doi: 10.1037/adb0000078. Epub 2015 May 4.


Computer-assisted behavioral treatments hold promise for enhancing access to and reducing costs of treatments for substance use disorders. This study assessed the efficacy of a computer-assisted version of an efficacious, multicomponent treatment for cannabis use disorders (CUD), that is, motivational enhancement therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and abstinence-based contingency-management (MET/CBT/CM). An initial cost comparison was also performed. Seventy-five adult participants, 59% Black, seeking treatment for CUD received either, MET only (BRIEF), therapist-delivered MET/CBT/CM (THERAPIST), or computer-delivered MET/CBT/CM (COMPUTER). During treatment, the THERAPIST and COMPUTER conditions engendered longer durations of continuous cannabis abstinence than BRIEF (p < .05), but did not differ from each other. Abstinence rates and reduction in days of use over time were maintained in COMPUTER at least as well as in THERAPIST. COMPUTER averaged approximately $130 (p < .05) less per case than THERAPIST in therapist costs, which offset most of the costs of CM. Results add to promising findings that illustrate potential for computer-assisted delivery methods to enhance access to evidence-based care, reduce costs, and possibly improve outcomes. The observed maintenance effects and the cost findings require replication in larger clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Motivational Interviewing / methods*
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult