College students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are particularly vulnerable to problematic alcohol use, given their developmentally-inappropriate levels of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, combined with the lifestyle associated with life on a college campus (including increased access to alcohol, decreased structure and parental supervision). Our prior research demonstrates elevated rates of alcohol- related problems and disorders (AUDs) among college students with ADHD; 47% of college students with ADHD meet lifetime criteria for alcohol abuse and 23% meet criteria for dependence, as compared to 12% and 6% of college students from the general population, respectively. There are currently no published randomized controlled studies examining psychosocial interventions for college students with ADHD, and none specifically targeting AUDs in this population at any age, despite the clear indication from emerging research of the need for such interventions. Moreover, brief motivation-based alcohol interventions (BMIs) that generally have been successful for college students show limited benefits among individuals with elevated impulsivity and poor self- regulation, both hallmarks of ADHD, calling for the need to modify BMIs for this vulnerable group. Thus, it is crucial to determine core treatment components that are efficacious for treating AUDs and that are developmentally-appropriate for college students with ADHD and designed in a manner which promotes transportability to the university counseling center setting. Behavioral activation (BA) is a brief behavioral approach that aims to increase individuals' contact with valued environments through systematic efforts to increase rewarding experiences, enjoyment of daily activities, and goal-directed behaviors. We have successfully applied BA to substance users in a range of settings, including college students with problematic drinking patterns. Importantly, BA has clear relevance for addressing ADHD-related executive functioning deficits, which may be associated with an increased propensity for engagement in problematic alcohol use. Further, BA teaches individuals to engage in healthy, goal-directed rewarding behaviors, rather than relying on drinking to provide immediate rewards. Finally, BA is a highly adaptable intervention approach. In the current study, we will develop a BA-based treatment intended to reduce problematic drinking behaviors among college students with ADHD. This treatment will be developed in collaboration with the University Counseling Center, to ensure its applicability within this setting, utilizing focus grou methodology with Center staff. Finalized treatment manuals, altered based on focus group feedback, will be tested in a stage I RCT among 80 college students randomized to 3 sessions of BMI + BA or BMI + supportive counseling (SC). We expect that BMI + BA will be successful with college students with ADHD, in terms of decreasing the escalation of problematic alcohol use behaviors, as compared to BMI + SC. This treatment development study will set the stage for larger-scale RCTs (R01).
College students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are particularly vulnerable to problematic alcohol use, given their developmentally-inappropriate levels of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, combined with aspects of the college context (including increased access to alcohol and decreased parental structure/support/supervision). At the same time, they are less likely to benefit from brief motivation-based alcohol interventions (BMIs). This project aims to develop and test a novel treatment for college students with ADHD which integrates BMI with Behavioral Activation, with the intention of reducing problematic alcohol use and improving overall functioning in this at-risk population.
|Almirall, Daniel; Chronis-Tuscano, Andrea (2016) Adaptive Interventions in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 45:383-95|