Category: RCT

XXV Annual Meeting & Canadian Scientific Conference 2015 CSAM – SMCA (#WhatTheFentanyl #abhealth)

What is the future of addiction medicine? What is the future addiction specialist going to look like? Nobody knows what the future is going to look like, but the delegates of the 25th CSAM annual conference imagined answers to these questions in Banff, Alberta at the Banff Centre on Tunnel Mountain. As a first comer to the conference, I had a lot to learn and a lot to write down. Read more below.

photocredit: csam-smca.org

Seven high-profile experts explored trends at home and abroad and the scientific topics impacting the future of addiction treatment delivery in their keynote plenaries.

1.         Prescription Abuse (Dr. Roger Weiss)
Dr Weiss updated he delegates on the progress of the Prescription Opioid Addiction Treatment Study (POATS). The outcomes of the first phase of the trial were disastrously low, in contrast with the buprenorphine that was 7 times more effective after 4 weeks. Who did well? If you’d ever been in a treatment, or used not-as-prescribed prescription opioids, or the OxyContin was your most frequently used opioid – that was a bad sign. Older people did better. Interestingly, depression was also a good sign. What initiates the addiction is not necessarily what maintains the addiction.
2.         Marihuana and Anxiety (Dr. Matthew Hill)
Dr Hill introduced the insights from the basic science field. Why people use cannabis? 84% say it helps them relax; to help reduce feelings of stress, tension and anxiety. The endocanabinoids tends to keep the amygdala quiet when it should be quiet. They act as natural regulators of the amygdala. Anxiety may be related to impairment in the endocannabinoid signalling. Dr Hill’s 2014 talk on the same topic has been recorded and posted online.
3.         State of the Science for Technology-Based Approaches to Substance Use: Directions for the future (Dr. Sarah E. Lord)
Internet Electronic Therapy was the focus of the first afternoon plenary. Dr Lord described some of the tools that are out there, gave examples of them and validation data. Brief intervention and CBT-4-CBT were among them. The space of phone applications industry is far ahead of the science.
4.         Integrative Addiction Medicine (Dr. G. Bunt)
The weather conditions worsened in Banff so much that Dr Bunt slipped and fell down on the way to the lecture hall (see Figure 1).
5.         Brain Plasticity and Addiction (Dr. Bryan Kolb)
Dr Kolb kicked off the Saturday conference programme. Brain changes constantly. Anything you learn is going to occur because the brain changes. Play and stress too modify pre-frontal cortex. Interaction of brain and psychoactive drugs keeps fascinating scientists.
6.         Clinical considerations for behavioural addictionsin the settings of DSM-5 and ICD-11 (Dr. Marc Potenza). During the first part of this millennium the perspectives on addiction changed, especially the behavioural addictions. How are they different or similar to substance use disorders? Many are strongly associated with behavioural addictions, e.g., heavy alcohol use and gambling. In addition to the high rates of co-occurrence, there are similar clinical courses, similar clinical characteristics, similar biologies and similar treatments for behavioural addictions.
7.         The Alberta Addiction & Mental Health Review: Current challenges & lessons learned (Dr. David Swann).

Investment into addiction treatment is only a fraction of the Alberta’s budget – 0.1%. The current government of Alberta isn’t doing evidence-based policy but policing evidence. Racism is alive and well in Alberta. Lack of understanding led to the fiasco of the primary care reform in Alberta. It has an ambiguous direction on harm reduction. Dr Swann concluded his talk with 30 questions for the audience.

Figure 1. Banff centre snow

AMERSA 39th Annual National Conference

November 5th, the national conference of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Addiction – AMERSA 39th – took place in Washington, DC. With 75% of the 225 delegates being new to the conference, the conference dynamics enlivened. As a rather small association with only 1 FTE, it is doing great in attracting so many new delegates. To see what lectures they got to hear, read my notes from the Keynote speeches below.

www.amersa.org

There is no room for prosecutors in the delivery room

Dr Paltrow questioned who gets the rights when it comes to pregnant drug users. While the laws in many US states try to protect the unborn child, in reality it is the judge, the county and the attorney who gets the rights. Is this the protection of the unborn or of the system? Dr Paltrow’s mother smoked during pregnancy:

“Maybe if my mom wasn’t smoking throughout her pregnancy, I might have been a for-profit lawyer.”

To reduce the stigmatisation of pregnant women with substance use disorders, make sure to “use the word use” – not Abuse, neither drug-dependent newborn. If you are asked to drug test when you shouldn’t, it is a moral obligation to do civil disobedience. The medical education should include teaching the risks that clinicians carry when they report pregnant women who use drugs.

What is appropriate counselling?

 
Dr Carroll posed some really important questions, such as – How do we really get to good long-term outcomes? Is Medical Management (MM approach) that good? The intensity of MM done in trials is probably not scalable in clinical practice. We shouldn’t give up on the research evaluating psychosocial treatments. Let’s give the therapies a fighting chance, shall we? We’ve just gotta find a way to do better as therapists. Many trials report that people do not finish the treatment. We have to reach to underserved and vulnerable populations. We have to realise that people in buprenorphine treatment are different – they don’t seek counselling. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) retains people in treatment 3x better than treatment as usual. Usual treatment does not teach people skills.
 

Betty Ford Award Plenary Session at the AMERSA 39th Annual National Conference

How AMERSA was saved? When Betty Ford learned in 1985 that the association is near extinction due to only $200 left in the kitty, she offered a $10.000 cheque from the royalties of her new biography and personal account. This year, Dr Caetano received award named after her. His Border project, and two other projects, found how the Mexican Americans and the Puerto Ricans drank much more than the other groups of US Hispanics. Women of this origin drank the most of all national groups in this country. 

“No matter what is the dimension of drinking, the diversity is there.”

If you’re in Miami, it’s not gonna be helpful to know the national data. The local authorities need to know.

If you enjoyed reading about this year’s conference, you may like to read my notes from the previous year, 38th meeting in San Francisco, CA, November 4th, 2014.

Alcohol and Methadone Don’t Mix! What’s New in Addiction Medicine? lecture series

Please join us on Tuesday, October 27 for this month’s edition of the “What’s New in Addiction Medicine?” lecture series.
 


This (free) event features a presentation by Dr. Jan Klimas and will be held between 12-1pm.  The talk is entitled “Methadone and Alcohol Don’t Mix” and will be hosted at St. Paul’s Hospital in the Hurlburt Auditorium (2nd floor).  A light lunch will be provided.
 
We strongly encourage guests to RSVP as soon as possible to ensure sufficient food and space.  (Please note that you will not need to bring your registration ticket(s) to the event.)
 
To RSVP, please click here.  (If you are experiencing any difficulty accessing the link, please type bit.ly/WNAM23 into your browser or email Cameron Collins at the address listed below.)
 
Please don’t hesitate to forward this email on to anyone who you think may be interested in this lecture or the series more broadly.  A calendar of upcoming presentations is available here.
 
If you have any questions about event logistics, please DO NOT respond to this email.  Instead, contact Cameron Collins ([email protected]).

Reduce alcohol consumption in illicit drug users: In the news

glass, dollar bill and cocaine

In 2012, we reviewed the evidence for talking therapies to reduce drinking among people who also use other drugs.  This review was published by the Cochrane collaboration and updated in November 2014. Seven months ago, Olivia Maynard, a research associate from the University of Bristol, gives a wonderful summary of the updated review.

Whilst we all know that excessive alcohol consumption is bad for our health, illicit drug users are one group for whom problem alcohol use can be especially harmful, causing serious health consequences.

The prevalence of the hepatitis C virus is high among illicit drug users and problem alcohol use contributes to a poorer prognosis of this disease by increasing its progression to other diseases. In addition, rates of anxiety, mood and personality disorders are higher among illicit drug users, each of which is exacerbated by problem alcohol use.
Despite these health consequences, the prevalence of problem alcohol use is high among illicit drug users, with around 38% of opiate- and 45% of stimulant-using treatment-seeking individuals having co-occurring alcohol use disorders (Hartzler 2010; Hartzler 2011).
Previous Cochrane reviews have investigated the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions (or ‘talking therapies’) for either problem alcohol use, or illicit drug use alone. However, none have investigated the effectiveness of these therapies for individuals with concurrent problem alcohol and illicit drug use. Given the significant health risk and the high prevalence of concurrent problem alcohol and illicit drug use, a Cochrane review of this kind is long over-due.
Luckily, Kilmas and colleagues have done the hard work for us and their comprehensive Cochrane review of the literature evaluates the evidence for talking therapies for alcohol reduction among illicit drug users (Klimas et al, 2014).
This updated Cochrane review looks at psychotherapy for concurrent problem alcohol and illicit drug use.
This updated Cochrane review looks at psychotherapy for concurrent problem alcohol and illicit drug use.
The talking therapies we’re concerned with here are psychologically based interventions, which aim to reduce alcohol consumption without using any pharmacological (i.e. drug-based) treatments. Although there’s a wide range of different talking therapies currently used in practice, the ones which are discussed in this Cochrane review are:
  • Motivational interviewing (MI): this uses a client-centered approach, where the client’s readiness to change and their motivation, is a key component of the therapy.
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): this focuses on changing the way a client thinks and behaves. To address problem alcohol use, CBT approaches identify the triggers associated with drug use and use behavioural techniques to prevent relapse.
  • Brief interventions (BI): often BIs are based on the principles of MI and include giving advice and information. However, as implied by the name, BIs tend to be shorter and so are more suitable for non-specialist facilities.
  • The 12-step model: this is the approach used by Alcoholics Anonymous and operates by emphasising the powerlessness of the individual over their addiction. It then uses well-established therapeutic approaches, such as group cohesiveness and peer pressure to overcome this addiction.

Methods

  • The Cochrane review included all randomised controlled trials which compared psychosocial interventions with another therapy (whether that be other psychosocial therapies (to allow for comparison between therapies), pharmacological therapies, or placebo). Participants were adult illicit drug users with concurrent problem alcohol use
  • Four studies were included, involving 594 participants in total
  • The effectiveness of these interventions were assessed and the authors were most interested in the impact of these therapies on alcohol use, but were also interested in their impact on illicit drug use, participants’ engagement in further treatment and differences in alcohol related harms
  • The quality of the studies was also assessed
The quality of trials included in this review could certainly have been a lot better.
The quality of trials included in this review could certainly have been a lot better.

Results

The four studies were very different, each comparing different therapies:
  • Study 1: cognitive-behavioural therapy versus the 12-step model (Carroll et al, 1998)
  • Study 2: brief intervention versus treatment as usual (Feldman et al 2013)
  • Study 3: group or individual motivational interviewing versus hepatitis health promotion (Nyamathi et al, 2010)
  • Study 4: brief motivational intervention versus assessment only (Stein et al, 2002)
Due to this heterogeneity, the results could not be combined and so each study was considered separately. Of the four studies, only Study 4 found any meaningful differences between the therapies compared. Here, participants in the brief motivational intervention condition had reduced alcohol use (by seven or more days in the past month at 6-month follow up) as compared with the control group (Risk Ratio 1.67; 95% Confidence Interval 1.08 to 2.60; P value = 0.02). However, no other differences were observed for other outcome measures.
Overall, the review found little evidence that there are differences in the effectiveness of talking therapies in reducing alcohol consumption among concurrent alcohol and illicit drug users.
The authors of this review also bemoan the quality of the evidence provided by the four studies and judged them to be of either low or moderate quality, failing to account for all potential sources of bias.
The review found no evidence that any of the four therapies was a winner when it came to reducing alcohol consumption in illicit drug users.
The review found no evidence that any of the four therapies was a winner when it came to reducing alcohol consumption in illicit drug users.

Conclusions

So, what does this all mean for practice?
In a rather non-committal statement, which reflects the paucity of evidence available, the authors report that:
based on the low-quality evidence identified in this review, we cannot recommend using or ceasing psychosocial interventions for problem alcohol use in illicit drug users.
However, the authors suggest that similar to other conditions, early intervention for alcohol problems in primary care should be a priority. They also argue that given the high rates of co-occurrence of alcohol and drug problems, the integration of therapy for these two should be common practice, although as shown here, the evidence base to support this is currently lacking.
And what about the comparison between the different talking therapies?
Again, rather disappointingly, the authors report that:
no reliable conclusions can be drawn from these data regarding the effectiveness of different types of psychosocial interventions for the target condition.
How about the implications for research? What do we still need to find out?
This review really highlights the scarcity of well-reported, methodologically sound research investigating the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions for alcohol and illicit drug use and the authors call for trials using robust methodologies to further investigate this.
Choosing a therapy for this group of patients is difficult with insufficient evidence to support our decision.
Choosing a therapy for this group of patients is difficult with insufficient evidence to support our decision.

Links

Klimas J, Tobin H, Field CA, O’Gorman CSM, Glynn LG, Keenan E, Saunders J, Bury G, Dunne C, Cullen W. Psychosocial interventions to reduce alcohol consumption in concurrent problem alcohol and illicit drug users. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD009269. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009269.pub3.
Hartzler B, Donovan DM, Huang Z. Comparison of opiate-primary treatment seekers with and without alcohol use disorderJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment 2010;39 (2):114–23.
Carroll, K.M., Nich, C. Ball, S.A, McCance, E., Rounsavile, B.J. Treatment of cocaine and alcohol dependence with psychotherapy and dislfram. Addiction 1998; 93(5):713-27. [PubMed abstract]
Feldman N, Chatton A, Khan R, Khazaal Y, Zullino D. Alcohol-related brief intervention in patients treated for opiate or cocaine dependence: a randomized controlled studySubstance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2011;6(22):1–8.
Nyamathi A, Shoptaw S,Cohen A,Greengold B,Nyamathi K, Marfisee M, et al. Effect of motivational interviewing on reduction of alcohol useDrug Alcohol Dependence 2010;107(1):23–30. [1879–0046: (Electronic)]
Stein MD, Charuvastra A, Makstad J, Anderson BJ. A randomized trial of a brief alcohol intervention for needle exchanges (BRAINE). Addiction 2002;97(6):691. [:09652140] [PubMed abstract]

 

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Olivia Maynard

Olivia Maynard
Olivia is a Research Associate in the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. Her research interests are primarily in the area of investigating the causes and consequences of unhealthy behaviours, and developing interventions to encourage healthy behaviour change, with a particular focus on tobacco and alcohol use. Her PhD, focussed on assessing the effects of plain packaging of tobacco products on behaviour. You can follow her on Twitter @OliviaMaynard17 and the research group she is part of @BristolTARG.

– See more at: http://www.thementalelf.net/mental-health-conditions/substance-misuse/reducing-alcohol-consumption-in-illicit-drug-users-new-cochrane-review-on-psychotherapies/#sthash.nhqsnqPW.dpuf

Reducing alcohol consumption in illicit drug users

Which talking therapies work for drug users with alcohol problems? A Cochrane update

Have you ever had an unresolved question and you kept asking again, again and again, until you got the answer? We wanted to find out whether talking therapies have an impact on alcohol problems in adult people who use illicit drugs (mainly opiates and stimulants), and which therapy is the best. We queried the scientific literature in 2012 and this year again.

Drinking above the recommended safe drinking limits can lead to serious alcohol problems or dependence. Excessive drinking in people who also have problems with other drugs is common and often makes these problems worse; their health deteriorates. Talking therapies may help people drink less but their impact in people who also have problems with other drugs is unknown. Talking treatments were the focus for an updated Cochrane review (Figure 1) published today (Dec 3).
Figure 1. Cochrane
We found four studies that included 594 people with drug problems. One study focused on the way people think and act, versus an approach based on Alcoholics Anonymous, aiming to motivate the person to develop a desire to stop using drugs or alcohol. One study looked at a practice that aimed to identify an alcohol problem and motivate the person to do something about it, versus usual treatment. One study looked at a counselling style for helping people to explore and resolve doubts about changing their behaviour (group and individual form), versus hepatitis health promotion. The last study looked at the same style versus assessment only.
In sum, the studies were so different that we could not combine their results to answer our question. As of June 2014, we still don’t know whether talking therapies affect drinking in people who have problems with both alcohol and other drugs because of the low quality of the evidence. We still don’t know whether talking therapies for drinking affect illicit drug use in people who have problems with both alcohol and other drugs. There was not enough information to compare different types of talking therapies. Many of the studies did not account for possible sources of bias. New clinical trials would help us to answer our question.
Citation example: Klimas J, Tobin H, Field C-A, O’Gorman CSM, Glynn LG, Keenan E, Saunders J, Bury G, Dunne C, Cullen W. Psychosocial interventions to reduce alcohol consumption in concurrent problem alcohol and illicit drug users. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014 , Issue 11 . Art. No.: CD009269. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009269.pub3/abstract

Cochrane is a global independent network of health practitioners, researchers, patient advocates and others, responding to the challenge of making the vast amounts of evidence generated through research useful for informing decisions about health. Read more at www.cochrane.org