Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE): A Pilot Study in Alcohol-dependent Women

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Abstract

Objectives:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders are highly comorbid. Effective treatments are largely lacking. This pilot study evaluated the safety and feasibility of a novel intervention, Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE), in preparation for a randomized controlled trial.

Methods:

Twenty-two treatment-seeking women with current DSM-IV-TR PTSD and alcohol dependence (AD) were recruited. Participants received COPE. Safety and feasibility were evaluated, as were efficacy-related outcomes: PTSD and depression symptom severity, alcohol use, craving, and dependence severity.

Results:

No adverse events occurred. COPE was implemented in routine clinical practice. Among the assessed women, 95.8% were eligible to participate. Treatment attendance and completion were higher than in previous studies. Post treatment, all efficacy-related outcomes, including PTSD and depression symptom severity, alcohol use, craving, and dependence severity, were significantly reduced.

Conclusions:

COPE was safe and feasible to use. Concerns that trauma-focused, exposure-based therapy might promote relapse in this population appear unwarranted. Our findings provide initial evidence suggestive of COPE efficacy for comorbid PTSD and AD in women. These results provide a strong rationale for investigating the efficacy of COPE for comorbid PTSD and AD in women in a randomized controlled trial.

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