Current Addiction Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 110–119 | Cite as

mHealth for the Detection and Intervention in Adolescent and Young Adult Substance Use Disorder

  • Stephanie Carreiro
  • Peter R. Chai
  • Jennifer Carey
  • Jeffrey Lai
  • David Smelson
  • Edward W. Boyer
Adolescent / Young Adult Addiction (T Chung, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Adolescent / Young Adult Addiction


Purpose of Review

The goal of this review is to highlight recent research in mHealth-based approaches to the detection and treatment of substance use disorders in adolescents and young adults.

Recent Findings

The main methods for mHealth-based detection include mobile phone-based self-report tools, GPS tracking, and wearable sensors. Wearables can be used to detect physiologic changes (e.g., heart rate, electrodermal activity) or biochemical contents of analytes (i.e., alcohol in sweat) with reasonable accuracy, but larger studies are needed. Detection methods have been combined with interventions based on mindfulness, education, incentives/goals, and motivation. Few studies have focused specifically on the young adult population, although those that did indicate high rates of utilization and acceptance.


Research that explores the pairing of advanced detection methods such as wearables with real-time intervention strategies is crucial to realizing the full potential of mHealth in this population.


Substance use disorder Technology mHealth Treatment Young adults Wearables 



The authors’ work was generously supported by National Institutes of Health KL2 TR001455-01 (SC) and 1K24DA037109 (EB).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Stephanie Carreiro has received a grant from RAE Healthcare to investigate the use of wearable sensors for stress and craving during treatment for substance abuse disorder.

Peter R. Chai declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Jennifer Carey declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Jeffrey Lai declares that he has no conflict of interest.

David Smelson declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Edward W. Boyer declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie Carreiro
    • 1
  • Peter R. Chai
    • 2
  • Jennifer Carey
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Lai
    • 1
  • David Smelson
    • 3
  • Edward W. Boyer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Medical ToxicologyUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Medical ToxicologyBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry, Division of Addiction PsychiatryUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA

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