CONNECT for Depressed Cannabis Users Trial

2018-11-07 17:13:11 | BioPortfolio


The purpose of this study is to test the usefulness of a computer-assisted intervention for depressed cannabis users by combining peer and therapist social network support via Facebook that uses the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy (CBT/MET) to help with relapse prevention skills, reduce cannabis use and depressive symptoms, and improve treatment adherence. All participants will receive 10 weeks of the computer assisted intervention which includes weekly 60 minute (1 hour) sessions. All participants will also be part of a secret Facebook group (CONNECT). The goal of this secret Facebook group is to reinforce the knowledge and skills taught in the computer assisted intervention and to provide social support.


An estimated 8.4 million adults in the U.S. experience co-occurring psychiatric and SUDs, largely accounted for by comorbid mood disorder-SUD. Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance among individuals with depressive disorders1. Likewise, elevated rates of major depression are observed among those with cannabis use disorders (CUD)2.

The use of technology-based platforms for behavioral intervention delivery in primary care settings, focusing on comorbidity, is a promising approach to broadening availability of evidence-based treatments for this high-need population, at low cost.

With support from a NIDA High Priority, Short-Term Project Award, the present investigative team (PI Dr. Glasner-Edwards and Drs. Budney and Kay-Lambkin) piloted SHADE (Self-Help for Alcohol and Other Drug Use and Depression), a computerized intervention model combining cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET), in a primary psychiatric care setting, where integrated interventions addressing both mental health and SUDs are not readily accessible. Preliminary data indicate that SHADE: (1) was feasible and acceptable, (2) facilitated treatment engagement and retention in a difficult-to-treat comorbid population with major depression and CUD; and (3) effectively reduced cannabis use and depression. As a next step to optimize the efficacy of this intervention model, the present proposal is designed to develop and integrate a social media component to the SHADE intervention program, based on a program established and tested by Co-I Dr. Ramo in an RCT4.

To this end, we propose to: (a) develop and refine, with user feedback, a social media-assisted therapy intervention, CONNECT (Connected Cannabis Users' Network for Enhancement of Cognitive Therapy), which combines the use of Facebook for social network support with SHADE in a population of adults with CUD and major depression; and (b) collect preliminary data to evaluate effect sizes and investigate trends for the impact of CONNECT plus SHADE on cannabis use, depressive symptoms, and health service utilization. Moreover, we will gather preliminary data for social network analysis, to understand the mechanism(s) by which the social media component of CONNECT promotes health behavior change in the key outcome domains of the present study.

The use of a social media platform (i.e., Facebook) will increase the accessibility of the intervention as Facebook can be accessed using a variety of technology devices.

Aim 1. To develop and refine, with user feedback, a 10-week, social media-assisted intervention (CONNECT) combining a computer-assisted, integrated treatment program (SHADE) with private Facebook groups to facilitate peer and clinician support for therapeutic objectives. The CONNECT intervention targets cannabis use and depression in a population of depressed adults with CUD receiving psychiatric care.

Hypothesis 1: Participants will report that CONNECT is user-friendly and helpful in providing opportunities for between-session practice of therapy skills, peer and clinician support, and information that enable them to prevent cannabis relapse and manage depression.

Aim 2. To test the impact of CONNECT plus SHADE on cannabis use, depression, adherence to psychiatric care, and healthcare outcomes.

Hypothesis 2a: Among depressed substance dependent adults in an outpatient psychiatric care setting, CONNECT plus SHADE will led to clinical outcomes in reducing cannabis use and depression, and improving adherence to psychiatric care during and after treatment.

Aim 3. To test whether social network variables mediate or moderate the impact of CONNECT.

Hypothesis 3: Participants with more expansive Facebook social networks within CONNECT will benefit more from the program. Factors that influence engagement in the Facebook component of CONNECT will also be explored (e.g., social network characteristics and content of peer and therapist interaction via the social network), and engagement will be examined as a potential moderator of cannabis use and depression outcomes.

Study Design


Substance Abuse


SHADE therapy + CONNECT FaceBook support


UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs
Los Angeles
United States


Active, not recruiting


University of California, Los Angeles

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2018-11-07T17:13:11-0500

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