NIH grant supports study of text message effectiveness for people with opioid addiction

Suzette Glasner, PhD, an associate professor at the UCLA School of Nursing, has received a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to assess whether using texts to deliver cognitive behavioral therapy will help patients stick to their opioid treatment medication regimens.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a technique that is used to help people change their behaviors by altering the way they think about and approach challenges. Glasner’s text messaging therapy is different from other message-based approaches in that it delivers actual behavioral therapy rather than simple reminder messages.

“Medications for opioid use disorders are the gold standard treatment, and they continue to save and transform lives,” said Glasner, who also has studied the use of text messaging to help people adhere to treatment regimens for HIV. “But they only work if you take them, and adherence is low. My hope is that our work will help reverse this trend by providing a low-cost intervention.”

The grant is part of the NIH’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, also known as the HEAL Initiative.  The NIH HEAL Initiative aims to improve treatments for chronic pain, curb the rates of opioid use disorder and overdose and achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction.