Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are a costly and burdensome health concern, affecting over 15 million adults each year in the United States. Several FDA-approved medication-assisted therapies (MATs) are used for the treatment of AUD, with disulfiram (Antabuse) the oldest and one of the most common. Disulfiram acts as a ?psychological deterrent? and causes physiological reactions when taken with alcohol. Despite demonstrated efficacy for decreasing relapse, disulfiram is underutilized: efficacy is best demonstrated under monitoring or supervision, creating a barrier for use. Additionally, disulfiram adherence rates are low. The most common reason for non-adherence is that an individual is contemplating or planning a relapse, which typically occurs within 50 hours. Thus, disulfiram non-adherence can be a marker for relapse, providing a very short window for intervention. Technological advances now allow for electronic medication monitoring: devices are designed to objectively track adherence. The Wisepill device is an electronic medication monitoring system that pairs real- time monitoring with a triggered text message (SMS) when doses are late. The Wisepill device plus medication reminder SMS messages are associated with increased adherence to antiretroviral or diabetic therapy. Though the capability exists, potentially therapeutic SMS messages paired with Wisepill objective monitoring have yet to tested in any population. Indeed, previous research suggests that supportive and relapse prevention/coping skills SMS message interventions are effective in reducing alcohol use. Thus, given that disulfram non- adherence can signify a critical clinical concern (i.e., impending relapse), the delivery of a tailored, relapse prevention-focused, just-in-time SMS soon after disulfiram discontinuation could have a significant impact on AUD treatment outcomes. We propose to develop an intervention capitalizing on the Wisepill technology to pair real-time medication monitoring with tailored (a) real-time triggered reminders, (b) real-time abstinence support, and (c) relapse prevention SMS texts for individuals with AUD being treated with disulfram. We propose to develop a 12-week Wisepill+SMS intervention for individuals in alcohol treatment on disulfiram. This will include: 1) an in-person Wisepill orientation session to introduce the device and generate tailored relapse prevention messages; 2) use of the Wisepill device during the intensive treatment program and after discharge; 3) tailored SMS messages paired with use of the Wisepill device: a) supportive messages with medication compliance, b) reminder messages for early non-adherence (e.g., 1 hour late) and c) relapse- prevention messages after longer periods of non-adherence (e.g., several hours). The goal of this application is to develop the Wisepill+SMS intervention with the aid of focus groups (n=20), then test the Wisepill+SMS intervention in a RCT (n=75) comparing Wisepill+SMS to Wisepill only (i.e., no SMS) and disulfiram only (i.e., no Wisepill, no SMS). The Wisepill device, and its associated real-time monitoring and messaging systems, are relatively low-cost, easy to program, and can deliver an intervention that would reduce barriers to care.

Public Health Relevance

We anticipate that this project will lead to the development of a well-specified, novel, technology-supported medication adherence and relapse prevention intervention for individuals with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) utilizing disulfiram in early recovery that can be tested in a future fully-powered randomized clinical trial. This intervention will also increase knowledge on the feasibility and utility of a tailored SMS intervention delivered in real-time in increasing medication adherence, perceived social support, abstinence self-efficacy, and coping skills utilization in an effort to reduce risk of alcohol relapse. If the efficacy of this intervention can be supported, individuals with AUDs on disulfiram can be quickly helped during a high-risk situation for relapse.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Planning Grant (R34)
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Interventions to Prevent and Treat Addictions Study Section (IPTA)
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Hagman, Brett Thomas
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Butler Hospital (Providence, RI)
United States
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