Background: Research shows that alcohol and drug use among mental health clients is common and has the potential to negatively impact treatment outcomes. Internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy (ICBT) as a treatment for anxiety and depression is on the rise, but little is known about the prevalence of alcohol and drug use among clients and how this use affects treatment completion and outcomes. Objective: The objective of the current study was to explore the prevalence of alcohol and drug use among clients in ICBT for depression and anxiety, and to investigate the impact of alcohol and drug use on treatment completion and symptom outcomes. Material and methods: Data was collected from 1155 clients who participated in two randomized ICBT trials for depression and anxiety, conducted in a routine care clinic. Thirty-five individuals reporting severe substance use when applying to the trials were excluded. Demographic variables, and alcohol and drug use were measured at screening, and measures of depression and anxiety were administered at pre- and post-treatment. Results: Four out of five clients reported having used alcohol in the past year, while one in five reported having used drugs in the past year. Around a third of clients had reported either problematic alcohol use, drug problems, or both. The analyses showed that drug problems, and combined alcohol and drug problems were negatively associated with treatment completion, but neither alcohol nor drug use had an impact on depression and anxiety outcomes. Conclusions: Alcohol and drug problems are likely to be present among a large proportion of patients using ICBT for anxiety and depression. This may not be a barrier to treatment benefit, at least when those with severe alcohol and drug problems have been excluded.
Bibliographical noteCopyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
- internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy
- substance use