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2.  Designer drugs 2015: assessment and management 
Recent designer drugs, also known as “legal highs,” include substituted cathinones (e.g., mephedrone, methylone, and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, often referred to as “bath salts”); synthetic cannabinoids (SCs; e.g., Spice); and synthetic hallucinogens (25I-NBOMe, or N-bomb). Compound availability has evolved rapidly to evade legal regulation and detection by routine drug testing. Young adults are the primary users, but trends are changing rapidly; use has become popular among members of the military. Acute toxicity is common and often manifests with a constellation of psychiatric and medical effects, which may be severe (e.g., anxiety, agitation, psychosis, and tachycardia), and multiple deaths have been reported with each of these types of designer drugs. Clinicians should keep designer drugs in mind when evaluating substance use in young adults or in anyone presenting with acute neuropsychiatric complaints. Treatment of acute intoxication involves supportive care targeting manifesting signs and symptoms. Long-term treatment of designer drug use disorder can be challenging and is complicated by a lack of evidence to guide treatment.
PMCID: PMC4422150  PMID: 25928069
Designer drugs; Legal high; Bath salts; Cathinones; Mephedrone; Methylone; Methylenedioxypyrovalerone; Synthetic cannabinoids; Spice; 25I-NBOMe; N-bomb; Hallucinogens
3.  Patient-centered feedback on the results of personality testing increases early engagement in residential substance use disorder treatment: a pilot randomized controlled trial 
Patient-centered models of assessment have shown considerable promise for increasing patients’ readiness for mental health treatment in general, but have not been used to facilitate patients’ engagement in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. We developed a brief patient-centered intervention using assessment and feedback of personality data and examined its acceptability and efficacy to increase early engagement in residential SUD treatment.
Thirty patients entering a 90-day residential SUD treatment program were randomly assigned to a feedback (n = 17) or control (n = 13; assessment-only) condition. Normal-range personality was assessed with the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised (NEO PI-R). Patients were re-interviewed one month after treatment entry to obtain information on their satisfaction with the intervention, as well as their adjustment to the residential milieu. Electronic medical records were reviewed to obtain information on patients’ length of stay in the program and discharge status. Univariate ANOVAs and chi-square tests were conducted to examine group differences on outcomes.
Patients’ ratings indicated strong satisfaction with the feedback intervention and expectations that it would have a positive impact on their treatment experiences. Among patients who had not previously been treated in the residential program, the feedback intervention was associated with more positive relationships with other residents in treatment and a stronger alliance with the treatment program one month after treatment entry. The feedback intervention was also associated with a longer length of stay in treatment, although this effect did not reach statistical significance.
The findings highlight the clinical utility of providing SUD patients with patient-centered feedback based on the results of personality testing, and provide preliminary support for the acceptability and efficacy of this intervention to facilitate early engagement in residential SUD treatment.
PMCID: PMC4421926  PMID: 25928427
Substance use disorders; Patient-centered care; Therapeutic assessment; Treatment engagement; Personality testing; Feedback
4.  Implementation of a clinical pathway may improve alcohol treatment outcome 
This article describes the design, implementation, and evaluation of a clinical pathway system in a two-cohort quasi-experimental study before and after implementation, controlling for confounders. The main outcome measures were retention in care and sensible alcohol use (defined as abstinent or drinking no more than 21 standard drinks per week). Patients with harmful alcohol use or dependence as their primary problem who were seeking psychosocial treatment at one of four alcohol clinics in Denmark participated in the study. After implementation of the clinical pathway system, which incorporated a structured intake, a referral and independent follow-up system, checklists, audit, and feedback, there was no change in length of stay, but significantly more patients had a good clinical outcome (stopped or moderated their consumption) at the end of treatment (OR = 1.9; 1.2–3.1). The study documents the feasibility of using a clinical pathway framework, incorporating a local monitoring system, checklists, audit, and feedback to enhance treatment quality and improve outcomes for alcohol use disorders.
PMCID: PMC4428248  PMID: 25928550
Alcoholism; Outpatient clinics; Clinical pathway; Local monitoring; Outcome
5.  Technology-based interventions for tobacco and other drug use in university and college students: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
University students have high levels of tobacco and other drug use, yet they are unlikely to seek traditional care. Technology-based interventions are highly relevant to this population. This paper comprises a systematic review and meta-analysis of published randomized trials of technology-based interventions evaluated in a tertiary (university/college) setting for tobacco and other drug use (excluding alcohol). It extends previous reviews by using a broad definition of technology.
PubMed, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane databases were searched using keywords, phrases, and MeSH terms. Retrieved abstracts (n = 627) were double screened and coded. Included studies met the following criteria: (1) the study was a randomized trial or a randomized controlled trial (RCT); (2) the sample was composed of students attending a tertiary (e.g., university, college) institution; (3) the intervention was either delivered by or accessed using a technological device or process (e.g., computer/internet, telephone, mobile short message services [SMS]); (4) the age range or mean of the sample was between 18 and 25 years; and (5) the intervention was designed to alter a drug use outcome relating to tobacco or other drugs (excluding alcohol).
A total of 12 papers met inclusion criteria for the current review. The majority of included papers examined tobacco use (n = 9; 75%), two studies targeted marijuana use (17%); and one targeted stress, marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco use. A quantitative meta-analysis was conducted on the tobacco use studies using an abstinence outcome measure (n = 6), demonstrating that the interventions increased the rate of abstinence by 1.5 times that of controls (Risk Ratio [RR] = 1.54; 95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 1.20–1.98). Across all 12 studies, a total of 20 technology-based interventions were reviewed. A range of technology was employed in the interventions, including stand-alone computer programs (n = 10), internet (n = 5), telephone (n = 3), and mobile SMS (n = 2).
Although technological interventions have the potential to reduce drug use in tertiary students, very few trials have been conducted, particularly for substances other than tobacco. However, the improvement shown in abstinence from tobacco use has the potential to impact substantially on morbidity and mortality.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13722-015-0027-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4422468  PMID: 25928221
Systematic review; Meta-analysis; Technology; Intervention; Universities; Students; Drug use; Tobacco
6.  Evaluating whether direct-to-consumer marketing can increase demand for evidence-based practice among parents of adolescents with substance use disorders: rationale and protocol 
Fewer than one in 10 adolescents with substance use disorders (ASUDs) will receive specialty treatment, and even fewer will receive treatment designated as evidence-based practice (EBP). Traditional efforts to increase the utilization of EBP by ASUDs typically focus on practitioners—either in substance use clinics or allied health settings. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing that directly targets parents of ASUDs represents a potentially complementary paradigm that has yet to be evaluated. The current study is the first to evaluate the relevance of a well-established marketing framework (the Marketing Mix) and measurement approach (measurement of perceived service quality [PSQ]) with parents of ASUDs in need of treatment.
A mixed-methods design is employed across three study phases, consistent with well-established methods used in the field of marketing science. Phase 1 consists of formative qualitative research with parents (and a supplementary sample of adolescents) in order to evaluate and potentially adapt a conceptual framework (Marketing Mix) and measure of PSQ. Phase 2 is a targeted survey of ASUD parents to elucidate their marketing preferences, using the adapted Marketing Mix framework, and to establish the psychometric properties of the PSQ measure. The survey will also gather data on parents’ preferences for different targeted marketing messages. Phase 3 is a two-group randomized controlled trial comparing the effectiveness of targeted marketing messages versus standard clinical information. Key outcomes will include parents’ ratings of PSQ (using the new measure), behavioral intentions to seek out information about EBP, and actual information-seeking behavior.
The current study will inform the field whether a well-established marketing framework and measurement approach can be used to increase demand for EBP among parents of ASUDs. Results of this study will have the potential to immediately inform DTC marketing efforts by professional organizations, federal agencies, clinicians, and clinical researchers.
PMCID: PMC4422145  PMID: 25928298
Direct-to-consumer; Marketing; Dissemination; Adolescents; Substance use disorders
7.  A pre-post pilot study of a brief, web-based intervention to engage disadvantaged smokers into cessation treatment 
People with low education and/or income are more likely to smoke, less likely to quit, and experience disparately poor health outcomes compared to those with education and income advantage. Cost-effective strategies are needed to inform and engage this group into effective cessation treatments. We developed a novel, web-based, motivational, decision-support system that was designed to engage disadvantaged smokers into tobacco cessation treatment. We piloted the system among smokers in a primary care safety net clinic.
Thirty-nine eligible subjects were assessed at baseline and used the decision-support system; 38 were assessed 2 months later. Chi-square or Fisher’s exact tests were used to assess whether participants who used the program were more likely to use cessation treatment than a randomly selected group of 60 clinic patients.
Thirty-nine percent of smokers initiated cessation treatment after using the decision-support system, compared to 3 percent of the comparison group (Fisher’s exact = 21.2; p = 0.000). Over 10 percent achieved continuous abstinence over the 2-month follow-up. Users were satisfied with the program – 100 percent stated they would recommend it to a friend.
Our data indicate that this web-based, motivational, decision-support system is feasible, satisfactory, and promising in its ability to engage smokers into cessation treatment in a primary care safety net clinic. Further evaluation research is warranted.
PMCID: PMC4410579  PMID: 25638283
Tobacco cessation; Disadvantaged populations; Technology; Motivation
8.  Release from incarceration, relapse to opioid use and the potential for buprenorphine maintenance treatment: a qualitative study of the perceptions of former inmates with opioid use disorder 
The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world (937 per 100,000 adults). Approximately one-third of heroin users pass through correctional facilities annually. Few receive medication assisted treatment (MAT; either methadone or buprenorphine) for opioid use disorder during incarceration, and nearly three-quarters relapse to heroin use within 3 months of release. This qualitative study investigated barriers to and facilitators of buprenorphine maintenance treatment (BMT) following release from incarceration (“re-entry”).
We conducted 21 semistructured interviews of former inmates with opioid use disorder recruited from addiction treatment settings. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Themes that emerged upon iterative readings of transcripts were discussed by the research team.
Participants reported adverse re-entry conditions, including persistent exposure to drug use and stressful life events, which were perceived to contribute to opioid relapse and affected addiction treatment decisions during re-entry. Themes that emerged relating to BMT included: 1) reliance on willpower; 2) fear of dependency on medications; 3) variable exposure to buprenorphine; and 4) acceptability of BMT following relapse. Willpower was perceived to be more important for recovery than medications. Many participants experienced painful withdrawal from methadone during incarceration and were fearful that using MAT would lead to opioid tolerance and painful withdrawal again in the future. Participants reported both positive and negative experiences taking illicit buprenorphine, which affected interest in BMT. Overall, BMT was perceived to be a good treatment option for opioid use disorder that could reduce the risk of re-incarceration.
BMT was perceived to be acceptable, but former inmates with opioid use disorder may be reluctant to utilize BMT upon re-entry. Factors limiting utilization of BMT could be mitigated though policy change or interventions. Policies of the criminal justice system (e.g., forced detoxification) may be dissuading former inmates from utilizing effective treatments for opioid use disorder. Interventions that improve education and access to BMT for former inmates with opioid use disorder could facilitate entrance into treatment. Both policy changes and interventions are urgently needed to reduce the negative consequences of opioid relapse following re-entry.
PMCID: PMC4410477  PMID: 25592182
Opioid use disorder; Buprenorphine maintenance treatment; Incarceration; Access to care
21.  Using technology to promote integration of care 
PMCID: PMC4347483

Results 1-25 (397)