Research Topic

Application of New Technologies in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders

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According to the World Drug Report 2018, an estimated 275 million people worldwide, or 5.6 percent of the population aged 15-64 years, used drugs in the past year in 2016. The actual number of people who use drugs increased by 20 million people from 2015 to 2016. Of concern is the fact that an estimated one ...

According to the World Drug Report 2018, an estimated 275 million people worldwide, or 5.6 percent of the population aged 15-64 years, used drugs in the past year in 2016. The actual number of people who use drugs increased by 20 million people from 2015 to 2016. Of concern is the fact that an estimated one in nine people who use drugs (11 percent) suffer from substance use disorders, meaning that their drug use is harmful to the point where they may experience drug dependence and/or require treatment. This amounted to an estimated 30.5 million people worldwide in 2016 (range: 16.7 million to 44.4 million), or 0.62 percent (range: 0.34 to 0.91 percent) of the global population aged 15-64 years.

The most effective treatments for substance use disorders at this point are behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral and contingency management interventions, but these treatments alone are insufficient for many patients. Although medications have proven effective in treating some substance use disorders, there are currently no medications that counteract the specific effects of something like that amphetamine or that prolong abstinence from and reduce the abuse of amphetamine by an individual addicted to the drug.

Increasingly, modern technologies, such as smartphone, virtual reality, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and deep brain stimulation, are being brought in to help these patients, from tried-and-true methods to inventions that won't be perfected for decades. The use of such technologies as a supplement to mainstream therapies for substance use disorders are an emerging mental health treatment field which, it is argued, could improve the accessibility, effectiveness and affordability of substance use disorders care.

However, new technological innovations designed to improve mental health are both exciting and frightening. Technologies are short-cuts that amplify the everyday experience. Consequently, they can be significantly more beneficial, or harmful, than traditional self-improvement methods. A lot of the discussion around the benefits and disadvantages of these new technologies in the treatment of substance use disorders.

To facilitate the adoption of new technologies in the treatment of substance use disorders, we gather a series of research focus on the field. The goal of this Research Topic is to discuss how specialized technologies can improve the treatment of substance use disorders, as well as highlight the weaknesses and pitfalls of using technology to assist in clinical.


Keywords: Amphetamine, Virtual Reality, Smart Phone, Behavioral Therapy, Deep Brain Stimulation, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Substance Use Disorders


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