Objective: Co-occurring posttraumatic stress (PTSD) and substance use disorders provide clinical challenges to addiction treatment providers. Interventions are needed that are effective, well-tolerated by patients, and capable of being delivered by typical clinicians in community settings. This is a randomized controlled trial of integrated cognitive behavioral therapy for co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorders.
Methods: Fifty-three participants sampled from seven community addiction treatment programs were randomized to integrated cognitive behavioral therapy plus standard care or individual addiction counseling plus standard care. Fourteen community therapists employed by these programs delivered both manual-guided therapies. Primary outcomes were PTSD symptoms, substance use symptoms and therapy retention. Participants were assessed at baseline, 3- and 6-month follow-up.
Results: Integrated cognitive behavioral therapy was more effective than individual addiction counseling in reducing PTSD re-experiencing symptoms and PTSD diagnosis. Individual addiction counseling was comparably effective to integrated cognitive behavioral therapy in substance use outcomes and on other measures of psychiatric symptom severity. Participants assigned to individual addiction counseling with severe PTSD were less likely to initiate and engage in the therapy than those assigned to integrated cognitive behavioral therapy. In general, participants with severe PTSD were more likely to benefit from integrated cognitive behavioral therapy.
Conclusions: The findings support the promise of efficacy of integrated cognitive behavioral therapy in improving outcomes for persons in addiction treatment with PTSD. Community counselors delivered both interventions with satisfactory adherence and competence. Despite several limitations to this research, a larger randomized controlled trial of integrated cognitive behavioral therapy appears warranted. (Authors)