The Use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Substance Use Disorders: A Review of Literature

Joy Osaji, Chiedozie Ojimba, Saeed Ahmed


Background: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a form of behavioral therapy that teaches people to learn to accept rather than avoid challenging situations in their lives. ACT has shown to be an intervention with great success in the reduction of various mental disorders and substance use disorders (SUDs). The core of ACT when used in SUD treatment is guiding people to accept the urges and symptoms associated with substance misuse (acceptance) and use psychological flexibility and value-based interventions to reduce those urges and the symptoms (commitment). The purpose of this study is to review the existing literature to examine the evidence on the use of ACT in the management of SUD.

Methods: A thorough search of four databases (CINAHL,, PsycINFO and PsycNET) from 2011 to 2020 was conducted using search terms like ACT, ACT and SUD, ACT, and substance misuse. The articles retrieved were critically appraised using the Critically Appraised Topic (CAT) Checklist.

Results: Most of the studies showed that ACT was effective in the management of SUD showing significant evidence of a reduction in substance use or total discontinuation with subsequent abstinence.

Conclusions: The literature review concluded that success has been achieved using ACT either as monotherapy or in combination with other therapy in the treatment of individuals with SUD.

J Clin Med Res. 2020;12(10):629-633


Acceptance and commitment therapy; Substance use disorders; Cognitive behavioral therapy; Reduction; Psychological flexibility

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