UPEI pilot project uses online program to treat addictions
'We're rural, we have low numbers, we needed a solution that worked,' says researcher
A web-based addictions treatment program being tested by UPEI to help people with addictions seems to be making a difference.
About 50 people in P.E.I. are using the program, developed at the Yale School of Medicine, called CBT4CBT.
"So far in P.E.I. the feedback has been very positive," said Michelle Patterson, research manager with the project at UPEI.
Patterson cautioned that because the research project is still ongoing they can't analyze the data yet.
"We're rural, we have low numbers, we needed a solution that worked," said Patterson.
Patterson compared the program to watching a TV show. There are stories to follow and clients can see how the choices people make can change what happens.
"Individuals are using the program when we are asking them to which is a really big outcome … they sign on and they use the program so it's something that they find helpful," said Patterson.
"They are sticking with it, and they also enjoy it, they like the characters, they find that they're relatable."
UPEI researchers say they look forward to seeing the outcomes and whether it makes sense for the program to become a permanent part of the health system.
The program is being tested in a number of locations from hospitals to treatment centres.
Barbara Bernard, community health representative at the Abegweit Health Centre, said clients seem to like it.
"It kind of gives them those tools to know what stuff they were struggling with," she said.
"To be able to move forward in a more positive way and know that these past patterns are something that would trigger them."
Expanding the idea
UPEI received a federal grant worth about $600,000 to run a two-year pilot project using the online program.
Although P.E.I. data can't be analyzed yet, researchers know the same program in the United States helped people get more control and reduce how often they were using drugs and alcohol.
The pilot project ends at the end of March.
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With files from Laura Meader