New research shows the importance of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the recovery of those with drug and alcohol use problems and depression. The researchers, from the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, note that many people with substance abuse issues have depressive symptoms, however very often they are only treated for the abuse or the depression, not both. The author’s wrote, “The consequences of this unmet need are great. The interactive nature of the two disorders leads to poorer depression and substance abuse treatment outcomes compared with the outcomes when only one disorder is treated.”
Lead author, Katherine E. Watkins, M.D., M.S.H.S, worked with people from four different Behavioral Health Service institutions in Los Angeles. The researchers used a treatment method that varied between traditional substance abuse treatment alone and also combined with CBT as derived from the Building Recovery by Improving Goals, Habits and Thoughts (BRIGHT) study. The treatment was conducted in two-hour sessions, 16 times over a two-month period. The researchers found that three months after undergoing the treatment, the participants on the combination treatment showed fewer symptoms than the group on traditional treatment alone. At the six-month mark, nearly 70 percent in the combination group reported significantly lower symptoms than the control group.
The researchers also discovered that the combination subjects who no longer resided in a treatment facility encountered fewer days of relapse compared to the control group as well. The researchers say, “The study demonstrates that it is possible to develop the capacity of substance abuse programs to deliver evidence-based mental health care by enhancing the skills and expanding the clinical roles of substance abuse counselors.” The researchers believe that this is a key point and go on to add that, “Lack of access to efficacious depression treatment for substance abusers is an important public health problem.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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