An online addiction therapy program at UPEI got an official boost Friday of $600,000 in federal funding.

UPEI's Centre for Health and Biotech Management Research is piloting and monitoring the cognitive behavioural therapy developed by Dr. Kathleen Carroll and researchers at the Yale School of Medicine.

'We look forward to further development of this approach as it gains traction on PEI and in rural communities across Canada.' — Dr. Robert Gilmour, UPEI

The program uses interactive tools to reinforce the lessons and skills the patient is introduced to in counselling. It "allows patients to recognize triggers, improve coping mechanisms, and alter the behaviour that leads to substance abuse," the UPEI researchers said in a written release.

"We are excited to be awarded this funding from CIHR, as it allows us to bring another tool to battle addiction to Canada," said UPEI's Dr. Juergen Krause. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy is known for its success in helping people from alcohol and substance abuse, Krause added.

"The funds obtained will provide us the unique opportunity to be the entry portal for this new addictions treatment approach to Canada and to develop it in collaboration with our partners in PEI and New Brunswick," he said.

The program is currently being used at UPEI and Holland College, along with Lennox Island and Abegweit First Nations.

Expansion plans

In the next six months, it will expand to methadone clinics and inpatient addiction treatment facilities on P.E.I., along with First Nations communities in New Brunswick.

Over the next few years researchers will monitor its effectiveness and make adjustments to fit different clients such as youth, francophones and First Nations. 

"UPEI is proud to be a part of the project and we look forward to further development of this approach as it gains traction on P.E.I. and in rural communities across Canada," said Dr. Robert Gilmour, UPEI's Vice-President of Research and Graduate Studies.

The money comes from The Canadian Institutes of Health Research through its eHealth Innovation Partnership Program. Thursday, it announced more than $13 million for 22 research programs across Canada.