Using Technology to Help Individuals with Substance Use and Depression

Millions of people are challenged by drug and/or alcohol use, which may result in physical and emotional health concerns. Many individuals feel like they have lost control and struggle with depressive signs and symptoms, in addition to substance use – and only a fraction of these individuals receive care, according to a report on addiction released in November by the U.S. Surgeon General.

At Magellan Health, our clinical methodology for the management of substance use incorporates leading principles of care, involving appropriate assessment, evidence-based interventions, as well as close collaboration with other healthcare providers who are vital to the delivery of effective care. At the core of Magellan’s interventions for substance use is our suite of computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CCBT) programs powered by Cobalt Therapeutics, as well as screening software, and optional wraparound telephonic support.

Magellan’s Cobalt platform includes online, well-studied programs proven to help individuals who are coping with various behavioral health conditions. Among our Cobalt CCBT programs is SHADE – a 10 session mobile and web-based program for individuals living with alcohol, and/or drug use and co-morbid depression. SHADE provides skills-building exercises, which include mood monitoring, problem brainstorming, pros and cons analysis, planning for change, identifying problematic thought patterns and developing effective drug refusal skills. SHADE helps participants control their substance use, alcohol use and low mood by promoting long-lasting skill-based changes in behavior and thinking.

Published in the journal Addiction, SHADE has been proven in randomized, controlled trials to:

  • Be comparable in efficacy to face-to-face therapy.
  • Reduce hazardous drug and alcohol use by 44-58 percent after 6 months.
  • Reduce hazardous use by 72 percent after 12 months.
  • Significantly reduced binge drinking.

SHADE was listed favorably among the technology assisted interventions highlighted by the surgeon general’s report as a tool designed to “(1) increase access to care in underserved areas and settings; (2) free up time so that service providers can care for more clients; (3) provide alternative care options for individuals hesitant to seek in-person treatment; (4) increase the chances that interventions will be delivered as they were designed and intended to be delivered; and (5) decrease costs” (see for more information).

You can learn more about Magellan’s Cobalt CCBT capabilities here:


Magellan’s self-guided Computerized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy from Magellan Health on Vimeo.

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