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2024 Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies Pilot Project Funded Focuses on Wellness

Stimulant use (e.g., methamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine) is implicated in over 50% of overdose deaths per year. The lack of FDA-approved medications to treat stimulant use disorder (StUD) make the identification of effective psychosocial treatments critically important. Drs. Meghan Deshais and Peggy Swarbrick recently received a grant from the Rutgerā€™s University Center for Alcohol and Substance Use Studies to fund the first stage of a project aimed at developing an effective, digital intervention for individuals with StUD. The intervention will integrate the Wellness Model developed by Dr. Swarbrick aimed at helping individuals establish healthy habits that support mental and physical health with financial incentives to promote behavior change. The Wellness Model incorporates eight wellness dimensions: emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual, and environmental. Interventions that employ financial incentives for behavior change (i.e., contingency management) have been found to be the most effective psychosocial intervention for StUD.

At present, there are no existing contingency management interventions for individuals with StUD with an empirically supported wellness model serving as its framework. The incorporation of a wellness model into a contingency management intervention for StUD represents a novel approach and could enhance long-term outcomes by teaching users about holistic wellness and its impact on recovery, and by delivering incentives for both stimulant abstinence and engagement in healthy habits.  This project will follow co-production and community-based participatory approaches to co-develop, and examine acceptability and feasibility during the early stages of intervention to ensure it meets the needs of individuals with StUD. The Community Advisory Board consisting of individuals with lived experience will guide the project throughout all phases. The proposed project aims to focus on helping people create and sustain wellness behaviors to enhance sustained recovery.