Seeking Safety is a brief therapeutic treatment that incorporates cognitive behavioral techniques in order to decrease substance misuse in people suffering from post-traumatic stress. Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) are common in individuals who have experienced a traumatic event, and the majority of women being treated for SUDs have reported prior traumas. Because SUD and PTSD are commonly comorbid, many new treatments designed to address both issues have begun to emerge. Seeking Safety is one such a treatment.
Denise A. Hien of the Department of Clinical Psychology at City College in New York recently conducted a study to determine if Seeking Safety was as effective as other standard treatments for substance use and post-traumatic stress. Using data collected from National Institute on Drug Abuse National Drug Treatment Clinical Trials Network (NIDA CTN), Hien and her colleagues examined 353 women as they participated in the Seeking Safety program or a traditional treatment program. The participants were evaluated for PTSD and SUD symptoms weekly during treatment, and again 3, 6, and 12 months after they completed their treatment.
Of the participants, Hein noticed three specific types of attenders. Completers were those who attended at least 80% of the sessions, droppers were those who dropped out after the third session, and titrators were those participants who adhered to treatment regularly for six or seven sessions but then attended irregularly from that point on. At the conclusion of her study, Hein found that the titrating participants in the Seeking Safety program showed the most improvement, specifically for alcohol use. She said, “Our findings underscore the importance of considering dose–response (albeit latent in this case) and treatment group composition to better identify for whom and to what degree a specific treatment might work.” Hein added, “More fundamentally, these study findings should prompt providers to consider that female patients with comorbid PTSD and SUD may be in the best position to determine when, how often, or which sessions to attend; such perspectives might not only be empowering to patients but might be efficacious as well.”
Hien, D. A., Morgan-Lopez, A. A., Campbell, A. N. C., Saavedra, L. M., Wu, E., Cohen, L., Ruglass, L., & Nunes, E. V. (2011, December 19). Attendance and Substance Use Outcomes for the Seeking Safety Program: Sometimes Less Is More. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026361
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