New hope for trauma sufferers with addictions

August 16, 2012
New hope for trauma sufferers with addictions

(Medical Xpress) -- A world-first study of an integrated treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use, led by researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, has found significant reductions in PTSD symptoms compared with usual treatment for substance use.

The landmark study shows for the first time that people with substance use issues, who are frequently excluded from for post traumatic stress, can in fact benefit from .

The study, published this week in the prestigious international journal JAMA, offers new hope for the estimated 350,000 Australians who experience the debilitating comorbid disorder.

The study randomly assigned patients to an integrated therapy called COPE which involved exposing patients to their and treating their substance use at the same time. Patients were administered the treatment over thirteen 90 minute sessions with a . The control group received usual treatment for substance use only.

From the beginning of the study to nine month follow-up the integrated treatment group had significantly greater reductions in PTSD symptoms compared with the control group.

Study leader Dr Katherine Mills said that given the extremely high rates of trauma among people receiving treatment for drug and alcohol use disorders the results of the trial were extremely encouraging.

“Currently a majority of people with substance use disorders are excluded from receiving PTSD treatment as there is a widely held view that patients need to be abstinent before any trauma work, let alone prolonged exposure therapy, can be undertaken. However, this is often very difficult for patients to achieve as their trauma symptoms tend to resurface when they stop using,” said Dr Mills.

“Our positive findings indicate that by using an integrated treatment program such as this, the many Australians who suffer from both of these conditions can be treated successfully.”

It is estimated that close to three-quarters of a million Australians experience PTSD in any one year, and one in 10 will develop PTSD at some point in their lives. A third of people with PTSD have a substance use disorder.

Nearly half of people receiving treatment for substance use have current symptoms of PTSD and 80 – 90 per cent have experienced trauma over their lifetime.

When mental health and substance use disorders occur together they are extremely difficult to treat as both conditions serve to maintain or exacerbate the other.

Mental health and substance use disorders account for more years of life lost due to disability than any other disorder and are second only to cancer and cardiovascular disease as leading causes of disease burden.

Explore further: PTSD psychotherapy is enhanced with D-cycloserine

More information: JAMA. 2012;308(7):690-699. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.9071

Related Stories

PTSD psychotherapy is enhanced with D-cycloserine

June 4, 2012
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is among the most common, distressing, and disabling medical consequences of combat or other extremely stressful life events. The first-line treatment for PTSD is exposure therapy, a type ...

Researchers find novel drug target for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder

September 5, 2011
A team of researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine has identified a promising therapeutic target in the brain that could lead to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is the first evidence of a ...

Memory-enhancing drug may improve exposure therapy for PTSD patients

November 3, 2011
A memory-enhancing drug may improve the speed and effectiveness of prolonged exposure therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients, according to a new pilot study by psychologists at The University of Texas ...

Recommended for you

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Using money to buy time linked to increased happiness

July 24, 2017
New research is challenging the age-old adage that money can't buy happiness.

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Neuroticism may postpone death for some

July 24, 2017
Data from a longitudinal study of over 500,000 people in the United Kingdom indicate that having higher levels of the personality trait neuroticism may reduce the risk of death for individuals who report being in fair or ...

Psychologists say our 'attachment style' applies to social networks like Facebook

July 24, 2017
A new investigation appearing this week in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests a strong association between a person's attachment style—how avoidant or anxious people are in their close relationships—and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.