Background: Cocaine use has increased in most European countries, including Switzerland, and many states worldwide. The international literature has described treatment models that target the general population. In addition to supplying informative measures at the level of primary and secondary prevention, the literature also offers web-based self-help tools for problematic substance users, which is in line with tertiary prevention. Such programs, however, have been primarily tested on individuals with problematic alcohol and cannabis consumption, but not on cocaine-dependent individuals.
Methods/Design: This paper presents the protocol of a randomised clinical trial to test the effectiveness of a web-based self-help therapy to reduce cocaine use in problematic cocaine users. The primary outcome is severity of cocaine dependence. Secondary outcome measures include cocaine craving, consumption of cocaine and other substances of abuse in the past month, and changes in depression characteristics. The therapy group will receive a 6-week self-help therapy to reduce cocaine consumption based on methods of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, principles of Motivational Interviewing and self-control practices. The control group will be presented weekly psycho-educative information with a quiz. The predictive validity of participant characteristics on treatment retention and outcome will be explored.
Discussion: To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first randomised clinical trial to test the effectiveness of online self-help therapy to reduce or abstain from cocaine use. It will also investigate predictors of outcome and retention. This trial is registered at Current Controlled Trials and is traceable as NTR-ISRCTN93702927.