A better tool to fight substance abuse
A new article in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment suggests that a computer program called MAPIT, developed by a UNT Health Science Center researcher, is more effective than standard justice system remedies in prompting substance-using probationers and parolees to start their treatment plans.
“Health and justice systems are overburdened in terms of costs and resources,” said Scott T. Walters, PhD, Professor and Chair of Health Behavior and Health Systems at the School of Public Health. “Programs like MAPIT can significantly impact public safety and health without placing additional burdens on the criminal justice system.”
Funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, MAPIT uses voice-automated online software to stimulate the desire to begin treatment, set goals and stay motivated in recovery. The program can recognize patterns in how people respond and make suggestions for strategies that might work for them. MAPIT can even send emails or text messages to remind people of their monthly goals
With researchers from George Mason University, Dr. Walters and colleagues compared results from MAPIT to in-person motivational interviewing and standard probation intake processes for prompting individuals toward treatment.
More than 300 probationers in the cities of Dallas and Baltimore participated in the randomized, controlled study. After two months, people who were randomly assigned to MAPIT were more than twice as likely to begin treatment, compared to those routed to standard justice system processes.
Millions of probationers across the United States need substance abuse treatment yet never actually initiate or complete it, Dr. Walters said. In 2015, nearly 25 million adults in the U.S. reported illicit drug use in the prior month, and nearly 65 million reported binge alcohol episodes. Of those in need of treatment, only 14 percent actually started an intervention program.
“The start of probation is a critical time to educate and motivate individuals,” Dr. Walters said. “MAPIT provides a platform for addressing substance use and other high-risk behaviors. Its success shows that a computerized intervention as part of a screening and treatment referral program can improve treatment initiation among substance-using probationers.”
By Jan Jarvis An international delegation of visitors from 12 countries came to Texas with one common goal: to learn more about how to prevent, treat and manage health problems affecting women around the globe. They found what they were looking for at UNT Health Science Center, one o...Read more
Aug 17, 2017
The University of North Texas System Board of Regents has selected Lesa B. Roe, Acting Deputy Administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as the sole finalist for the position of Chancellor. Ms. Roe’s selection was announced Thursday during the UNT System Board ...Read more
Aug 17, 2017
By Alex Branch When graduation day arrived for the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2017, students still had $2,200 left in an off-campus bank account. They could have spent that money they raised for class social events on a party or graduation gifts for themselves. Inste...Read more
Aug 14, 2017
By Sally Crocker For years, UNT Health Science Center’s Katherine Fogelberg, DVM, PhD, has donated her spare time to treating animals and finding homes for rescued pets. An Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health, Dr. Fogelberg has worked with zoo and wildlife animals as...Read more
Aug 11, 2017