Yale study identifies new substance abuse treatment

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Yale researchers have developed a program to treat substance abuse and dependence.

Yale researchers came up with an interactive web therapy based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, and in a study with cocaine-dependent patients, it was pretty effective.

Scenes such as a boyfriend offering his girlfriend drugs are dramatized in a web base approach to treating drug and alcohol addiction. 

Yale researchers developed Computer Based Training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT4CBT that teaches practical strategies.


“The overall goal is to have a high quality standardized way of getting a scientifically proven treatment to as many drug and alcohol users that can benefit from it,” said Dr. Kathleen Carroll, Yale School of Medicine.

Dr. Carroll led her team that studied two groups of cocaine addicts, one on standard treatment and the other also on CBT4CBT.

“We’re trying to get people to think differently and act differently,” she said.

Those on the user friendly therapy reduced their substance abuse by 20% more than the first group.

Dr. Carroll says that the skills learned came down to three key elements.

“Recognize the situations where they will likely to get in trouble with drugs and alcohol, avoid the situation as much as possible and then use the skills more effectively,” she said.

The interactive process, also more engaging for patients, typically with a lack of focus early on.

“Overtime, alcohol and drug use, they end up with cognitive difficulties, with attention difficulties– with memory– that take sometime to level after they use the substance,” said Dr. Brian Kiluk, Yale School of Medicine.

Co-investigator Dr. Kiluk points to how this tool benefits practicing clinicians.

“This gives them that opportunity all right, I don’t have to spend so much time to try and teach these skills. This program can do that but let me focus on other factors that the computer can’t teach you,” he said.

Chief Medical Office at Rushford sees all kinds of advantages.


“It will certainly create opportunities where this kind of program, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy isn’t available and it could shorten waiting lists where there is a problem getting into a program,” she said.

Dr. Carroll says that CBT4CBT is available, but they are still trying to figure out how to make it accessible to all clinicians.

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