A novel brief treatment for methamphetamine use disorders in South Africa: a randomised feasibility trial

K. Sorsdahl, D. J. Stein, S. Pasche, Y. Jacobs, R. Kader, B. Odlaug, S. Richter, B. Myers, J. E. Grant

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4 Scopus citations


Background: Effective brief treatments for methamphetamine use disorders (MAUD) are urgently needed to complement longer more intensive treatments in low and middle income countries, including South Africa. To address this gap, the purpose of this randomised feasibility trial was to determine the feasibility of delivering a six-session blended imaginal desensitisation, plus motivational interviewing (IDMI) intervention for adults with a MAUD. Methods: We enrolled 60 adults with a MAUD and randomly assigned them 1:1 to the IDMI intervention delivered by clinical psychologists and a control group who we referred to usual care. Feasibility measures, such as rates of recruitment, consent to participate in the trial and retention, were calculated. Follow-up interviews were conducted at 6 weeks and 3 months post-enrollment. Results: Over 9 months, 278 potential particiants initiated contact. Following initial screening 78 (28%) met inclusion criteria, and 60 (77%) were randomised. Thirteen of the 30 participants assigned to the treatment group completed the intervention. Both psychologists were highly adherent to the intervention, obtaining a fidelity rating of 91%. In total, 39 (65%) participants completed the 6-week follow-up and 40 (67%) completed the 3-month follow-up. The intervention shows potential effectiveness in the intention-to-treat analysis where frequency of methamphetamine use was significantly lower in the treatment than in the control group at both the 6 week and 3-month endpoints. No adverse outcomes were reported. Conclusions: This feasibility trial suggests that the locally adapted IDMI intervention is an acceptable and safe intervention as a brief treatment for MAUD in South Africa. Modifications to the study design should be considered in a fully powered, definitive controlled trial to assess this potentially effective intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalAddiction science & clinical practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Brief treatment
  • Feasibility trial
  • South Africa
  • Substance use


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