mHealth for the Detection and Intervention in Adolescent and Young Adult Substance Use Disorder

Curr Addict Rep. 2018 Jun;5(2):110-119. doi: 10.1007/s40429-018-0192-0. Epub 2018 Feb 15.


Purpose of review: The goal of this review is to highlight recent research in mHealth based approaches to the detection and treatment of substance use disorders in adolescents and young adults.

Recent findings: The main methods for mHealth based detection include mobile phone based self-report tools, GPS tracking, and wearable sensors. Wearables can be used to detect physiologic changes (e.g., heart rate, electrodermal activity) or biochemical contents of analytes (i.e. alcohol in sweat) with reasonable accuracy, but larger studies are needed. Detection methods have been combined with interventions based on mindfulness, education, incentives/goals and motivation. Few studies have focused specifically on the young adult population, although those that did indicate high rates of utilization and acceptance.

Summary: Research that explores the pairing of advanced detection methods such as wearables with real time intervention strategies is crucial to realizing the full potential of mHealth in this population.

Keywords: Substance Use Disorder; Technology; Treatment; Wearables; Young adults; mHealth.