Annual Conference

Summer Forum 2016 – S6: Breaking the Ice – Online treatments

By February 19, 2016 No Comments

Frances Kay-Lambkin discussed how treatment engagement and retention of people using methamphetamine is particularly difficult. Did you know that only 1 out of 10 methamphetamine users in Australia have engaged in treatment in the last 12 months? This is compared to 50% of opiate users who have engaged in treatment. People using methamphetamine also report a low level of perceived need and motivation to reduce their use or seek formal treatment.

As discussed by Amanda Baker yesterday and Michael Farrell this morning, there is abundant evidence that face-to-face psychotherapies can be effective for the treatment of methamphetamine use. However these types of treatments aren’t widely implemented in community based treatment services. It is this gap that online and mobile interventions are well suited to address. There is strong evidence of the effectiveness of online and mobile interventions in treating depression, anxiety, alcohol use and comorbid depression and alcohol/cannabis use. Kay-Lambkin presented results from the first online program to address methamphetamine use specifically.

She discussed her randomized controlled trial of ‘Breaking the Ice’, an online early intervention program for people using psychostimulants. Although people who were assigned to the Breaking the Ice condition did not show a greater reduction in stimulant use compared with the control group, relative to the control group, people who received the Breaking the Ice intervention were more motivated to reduce their drug use, more likely to seek help for their drug use and were more engaged in their usual day-to-day activities. While participants expressed concerns regarding privacy and some of the language used that assumed that people wanted to reduce their use, participants liked the Internet delivery approach, found it easy to use and would recommend the site to other meth users.

Frances is currently working to produce a revised Breaking the Ice program and put the call out for anyone interested in providing advice, perspectives or feedback about the program to get in contact with her via email (

Her final thought was to highlight that the fact that effective eMentalHealth technology is out there, it is accessible and to a certain extent people are using it. It’s time to integrate it into treatment services.

What are you thoughts? If you are a worker, do you think these types of eMentalHealh programs would be helpful in your own service? 

Dr Louise Thornton

National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre

NHMRC CRE in Mental Health & Substance Use