Digital Mental Health for Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders

Nikolaos Boumparis, Mieke H.J. Schulte, Heleen Riper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Only about 20% of people suffering from substance use disorders access available treatments due to various obstacles; digital interventions could potentially overcome some of these. Meta-analyses suggest the strongest evidence for interventions targeting alcohol use reduction, followed by cannabis and illicit substances. However, most randomized controlled trials (RCTs) used unguided standalone interventions compared to non-active controls, with limited follow-up periods and disregarded comorbidity. This review examines the literature published over the last three years (2016–2019), with a focus on recent RCTs and whether they addressed some of these gaps. Recent findings: Except for digital interventions targeting alcohol use, the number of RCTs in the last three years is limited. Although there is considerable heterogeneity between the studies, most of them applied unguided add-on interventions compared to active control groups, and a limited number investigated guided interventions. In addition, there is a need for longer follow-up periods, active rather than non-active control groups, outcome standardization, and increased focus on comorbidity. Summary: Although the number of studies using guided add-on or blended interventions compared to active controls has increased, future studies should consider our identified gaps and suggestions to further strengthen the evidence of digital interventions for reducing the use of alcohol and other substances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-366
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

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© 2019, The Author(s).


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