Feasibility and acceptability of approach bias modification during methamphetamine withdrawal and related methamphetamine use outcomes

Victoria Manning, Joshua B.B. Garfield, Katherine Mroz, Samuel C. Campbell, Hugh Piercy, Petra K. Staiger, Jarrad A.G. Lum, Dan I. Lubman, Antonio Verdejo-Garcia

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Approach bias modification (ApBM), a computerised cognitive training task which aims to reduce automatic, impulsive responding to drug-related cues, has been found to reduce alcohol consumption among individuals seeking treatment for their drinking. However, this approach has not been trialled in patients with methamphetamine use disorder (MUD), where altered impulsivity and reward processing are well-established. As such, this study aimed to examine the feasibility and acceptability of four consecutive days of ApBM training during a residential admission for methamphetamine withdrawal. Abstinence rates were examined 2-weeks and 3-months post-discharge. In terms of uptake, 52 of the 99 eligible patients approached agreed to participate and 47 of these 52 commenced training. Uptake and training completion rates (62%) were lower than those achieved in similar trials of ApBM for residential alcohol withdrawal, suggesting there are challenges to its delivery in this setting. This is likely due to the severity of acute methamphetamine withdrawal syndrome and associated behavioural characteristics. However, participants' ratings of the task and reports of post-session craving suggest acceptability was high. Abstinence rates were 61% at 2 weeks and 54% at 3-months, which compare favourably with the abstinence rates observed in a previous large treatment outcome study. The evidence of acceptability and apparent effectiveness suggest future trials of ApBM with MUD patients are warranted. However, ApBM may be more feasible in certain settings or among particular sub-groups where patients are more clinically stable and therefore more likely to complete the training (e.g., residential rehabilitation, after acute withdrawal has subsided).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-18
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Approach bias modification
  • Cognitive bias
  • Detoxification
  • Feasibility
  • Methamphetamine use disorder
  • Withdrawal

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