Affect's research on using smartphones to treat meth addiction helps grow our understanding of how to help people better

Affect Publishes Research Findings in Frontiers in Psychiatry

Outcomes demonstrate that a digital therapeutic program can be highly effective in treating methamphetamine use disorder

An article detailing Affect’s study on the delivery of digital treatment for methamphetamine use disorder (MUD) is featured in the July edition of the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

The research article contains the findings from a field study conducted by Affect in California in 2021. The aim of the field study was to prove the feasibility and effectiveness of Affect’s digital treatment program, which utilizes an integrated set of behavioral therapies, including contingency management, all delivered via the convenience of a smartphone app.

The 8-week intervention included 49 participants who had moderate to severe-level MUD, and the results demonstrate how highly effective the integrated program is in treating a substance use disorder that has no FDA-approved medication and where traditional treatment models have struggled.

Summary of key findings

Retention: The completion rate of Affect’s program was 55.1% compared to 31.2% rate of completion in outpatient programs for MUD, shown in 2019 TEDS data. Contingency management (CM) was found to be a strong factor in retention. Results confirmed that CM procedures, such as delivery of rewards for completion of tasks and activities, could be managed remotely via a smartphone app.

Participation: Participants who consistently engaged in program activities were more likely to complete the program and reduce meth use as measured by self reporting and drug tests. Those who completed the program attended an average of 35 meetings. Overall, more than 41% of activities and tasks were attended.

Effectiveness: Participants who provided four consecutive meth-negative saliva tests during the final 4 weeks of the 8-week program met criteria for positive reduction in meth use at a significant level. Reductions in saliva test meth use across the analysis sample were statistically significant.

Meth craving: Analyses could not detect significant differences in craving trajectories, but subgroups appeared to have erratic patterns in which early-phase high craving scores were not associated with relapse to use of meth nor with dropout. Participants with higher cravings appeared to stay in the program longer.

Sustainability: In exit interviews, roughly 44% of participants who completed the trial expressed interest in continuing the program without the CM component. All were retained without CM for another 8 weeks in the post-study program, supporting the viability and acceptability of the program to people with MUD.

Global improvement: In a Treatment Effectiveness Assessment at the end of the trial, 39% of respondents rated their improvement in the drug use domain at a “10” (much better) and 52% rated their improvement in overall health at a “10.” In follow-ups, ~56% of respondents self-reported no meth use in the month since program completion.

The full article and supporting documents can be found in the July issue of Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Affect’s digital treatment program is highly effective for alcohol, stimulant, and cannabis use disorders

Since these trials were conducted, Affect’s program for stimulant use disorders has been expanded and adapted to treat alcohol use disorder and cannabis use disorder, with highly positive results.

Thousands of people have undergone treatment and outcomes have been proven to be more than twice as effective as traditional treatment models by HEDIS measures and other key metrics.

Affect’s program leverages scientific research to help change behavior, and its use of technology reduces structural barriers to access treatment, bringing hope and promise to the estimated 46 million Americans who meet the criteria for having substance use disorders.

Affect works with referral partners across the treatment and health sector to bring help to those who need it. Please reach out to learn more about partnering with us or to refer someone to our care directly.