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The Application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in Substance Use Disorder (SUD): A Scoping Review

Kalefeld, Johanna (2021) The Application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in Substance Use Disorder (SUD): A Scoping Review.

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Abstract:Background: Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is one of the most prevalent psychological disorders worldwide, with a prevalence of up to 7% in the general population. Additionally, most individuals diagnosed with SUD display mental health comorbidities such as depression, anxiety or substance-induced psychosis. Therefore, effective treatment of SUD is of great importance at societal, economic and medical levels. Treatment as Usual (TAU) for SUD focuses on treating SUD exclusively while disregarding comorbidities to a large part. Also, relapses are very common after completing TAU for SUD, so that several cycles of treatment are required. An alternative to TAU could be the transdiagnostic approach of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which is considered a positive psychological “third-wave” therapy. Objectives: The general aim of this scoping review was to elaborate on whether ACT is an effective approach in SUD treatment. Further aims were comparing the effectiveness of ACT versus TAU and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in treating SUD, exploring the mechanisms tackled by ACT in the treatment of SUD, and determining short- and long-term effectiveness and limitations of the ACT approach in the treatment of SUD. Method: An exhaustive literature search of Web of Science, Scopus and PubMed was conducted. 11 studies on the effectiveness of ACT in SUD treatment were identified and reviewed in this paper. Results: It was found that ACT is an effective treatment approach for SUD. Further, ACT is at least equally effective as TAU and CBT when treating SUD, while ACT seems more effective than CBT over the long term. ACT is a transdiagnostic approach, thus, the mechanisms tackled by ACT do not only alleviate symptoms of SUD but are also effective in treating comorbidities such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. A limitation of ACT is that individual variables such as gender might influence its effectiveness. Conclusions: ACT is a promising approach for the treatment of SUD. Because of its transdiagnostic stance, it can be effectively applied to various psychological disorders, including but not limited to SUD. ACT also seems to be effective over the long term, but additional research is needed to clarify preliminary evidence. Future research is required to explore variables that might influence the effectiveness of ACT in the treatment of SUD and to validate findings on the long-term effects of ACT in SUD treatment. Keywords: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Substance Use Disorder, drug abuse, adults, effectiveness, transdiagnostic, scoping review
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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