Reducing Risk for Adolescent Substance Misuse with Text-Delivered Counseling to Adolescents and Parents

Michael J. Mason, J. Douglas Coatsworth, Michael Russell, Parinda Khatri, Suzanne Bailey, Matthew Moore, Aaron Brown, Nikola Zaharakis, Mikaela Trussell, Chelsea Jewel Stephens, Dorothy Wallis, Christopher Hale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Text-delivered prevention programs provide unique opportunities to deliver substance use prevention interventions to at-risk populations. Methods: A pilot randomized controlled trial was conducted to test the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a 4-week, automated personalized text-messaging prevention program, designed to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors associated with adolescent substance use and misuse. Sixty-nine adolescents were recruited from a Federally Qualified Health Care clinic and randomized to a text-delivered intervention, or a wait-list control condition. Simultaneously, fifty-two parents of adolescent participants were enrolled into a parenting skills text-delivered intervention. Participants completed a baseline assessment and three follow-up surveys over three-months. Adolescent saliva specimens for drug testing were collected. Results: All intervention-allocated adolescents implemented at least one of the text-based counseling recommendations and 79% indicated that they found the texts helpful. Significant intervention effects were found on risk and protective factors for substance misuse. Adolescents in the intervention group reported reduced depression symptoms (d = −.63) and anxiety symptoms (d = −.57). Relative to controls, adolescents in the intervention group maintained a higher quality of parental relationship (d =.41) and parenting skills (d =.51), suggesting a prophylactic effect. Marginal decrease in the odds of positive drug tests were found for youth in intervention group (77.1% decrease, p=0.07) but not with controls (54.3% decrease, p=0.42,). Conclusions: Results provide preliminary evidence in the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of targeting risk and protective factors that are implicated in substance use via text-delivered interventions for high-risk populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1247-1257
Number of pages11
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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