Behavioral addictions include gambling, eating/food, shopping, workaholism, sex, love, exercise, and electronic media, among others. Behavioral addictions may be present in over 50% of people who seek residential/inpatient alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use treatment. The presence of concomitant behavioral addictions among ATOD treatment service users may lead to less effective treatment (e.g., lower rates of abstinence), a higher likelihood of relapse, and a lowering of quality of life. It is therefore imperative to treat behavioral addictions while engaged in ATOD treatment. A recent study revealed that only 21% of ATOD model treatment program websites (as categorized by Statista; total n=289) even mentioned the topic of behavioral addictions (Sussman et al., 2022, in press). However, treatment of behavioral addictions at these treatment centers may occur informally via individual or group counseling or referral to other programming.

The present pilot study intends to interview 100 providers, one provider from each of four randomly selected model programs in each of 25 states in the US (including California) to discern perceptions of behavioral addictions among ATOD treatment providers as well as the feasibility or actual treatment at ATOD treatment centers. Working in partnership with well-respected treatment program developers/providers (Tom Horvath and Jefferson Sa), this study will feed into subsequent program development, i.e., to create behavioral addictions programming that will add to the treatment evidence base and eventually can be disseminated at ATOD treatment centers. The proposed study is a critical step towards reducing population-level behavioral addiction harms, may inform implementation science, and promote an enduring recovery (in California and other states).

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