Six Month Outcomes of a Peer-Enhanced Community Reinforcement Approach for Emerging Adults with Substance Misuse: A Preliminary Study


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Little substance use disorder (SUD) treatment research with emerging adults ages 18-25 has been done in community settings, and it is well-known that peers influence emerging adult substance use. The purpose of this study was to develop and test the feasibility of a peer-enhanced behavioral treatment for emerging adults with substance use problems. Emerging adults (n=35) received a peer-enhanced version of the Community Reinforcement Approach (Peer-CRA), in which their peers (n=34) were trained to provide alcohol-specific social support. Both identified clients and peers were interviewed at treatment intake, and again three and six months later. Six month outcomes included days of abstinence adjusted for controlled environment days, social costs due to substance use, and binge drinking days in the past 90 days. Treatments were delivered with high fidelity, and a high proportion of participants were retained in treatment and follow-up assessments. Growth curve analyses revealed that emerging adults and their peers significantly increased their days of abstinence and reduced their binge drinking over time. Larger randomized trials should a) test whether peer-enhanced treatments are efficacious relative to treatment as usual, b) investigate whether secondary benefits exist for non-treatment seeking peers supporting another’s treatment, and c) examine whether proposed mechanisms of change (i.e., peer support and peer reductions in substance use) account for any differences in outcomes.

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