Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management for Individuals With Substance Use Disorders: A Pilot Study


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Abstract

Stress-induced craving and stress reactivity may influence risk for substance use or relapse to use. Interventions designed to attenuate stress-induced craving and stress reactivity may serve as excellent adjuncts to more comprehensive treatment programs. The purpose of this study was to (1) tailor an existing, manualized, cognitive-behavioral stress management (CBSM) intervention for use in individuals with substance use disorders and (2) preliminarily evaluate the effects of the intervention using an experimental stress-induction paradigm. Twenty individuals were interviewed and then completed a psychological stress task, the Mental Arithmetic Task (MAT). After this, participants were assigned to either the CBSM intervention group or a nontreatment comparison group. Approximately 3 weeks later, participants completed a second MAT. In contrast to the comparison group, the CBSM group demonstrated significantly less stress-induced craving (p < .04) and stress (p < .02), and reported greater ability to resist urges to use (p < .02) after the second MAT. These findings are among the first to report on the use of an intervention to attenuate craving and stress reactivity among individuals with substance use disorders. Although preliminary, the findings suggest that systematic investigation of interventions specifically targeting stress management in individuals with substance use disorders should be undertaken.

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