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Now a computer programme to keep drug abusers off


Washington : A computer-assisted programme, along with traditional counselling, has helped drug abusers stay straight longer than those who received counselling alone, according to a new study.

As part of the study, 77 people who sought treatment for drug and alcohol abuse were randomly assigned to receive traditional counselling or to get computer-assisted training based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy as well as sessions with a therapist.

The subjects who received computer-assisted training had significantly fewer positive drug tests at the end of the study, reported Kathleen M. Carroll, of Yale University and co-author of the study.

“We think this is a very exciting way of reaching more people who may have substance use problems and providing a means of helping them learn effective ways to change their behaviour,” Carroll said.

Cognitive behavioural therapy concentrates on teaching skills and strategies to help people change behaviour patterns and has been proven to be effective way to treat a wide variety of psychiatric disorders. However, such therapy is not widely available for people with substance use problems, Carroll said.

Also, many counsellors lack the time or training to fully implement cognitive behavioural therapies for their patients, she said. She and her team at the Yale School of Medicine developed a software programme to help supplement counselling in drug addiction as well as other psychiatric disorders.

The computer-assisted therapy programme consists of text, audio, and videotaped examples designed to help the user learn new ways of avoiding the use of drugs and changing other problem behaviours.

The findings of the study were published in the online edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry.