Seeking Safety + 12 Step Facilitation = good outcomes

The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatmentseeking safety looks at Seeking Safety plus twelve step facilitation. Good news:


The Recovery Management paradigm provides a conceptual framework for the examination of joint impact of a focal treatment and post-treatment service utilization on substance abuse treatment outcomes. We test this framework by examining the interactive effects of a treatment for comorbid PTSD and substance use, Seeking Safety, and post-treatment Twelve-Step Affiliation (TSA) on alcohol and cocaine use.


Data from 353 women in a six-site, randomized controlled effectiveness trial within the NIDA Clinical Trials Network were analyzed under latent class pattern mixture modeling. LCPMM was used to model variation in Seeking Safety by TSA interaction effects on alcohol and cocaine use.


Significant reductions in alcohol use among women in Seeking Safety (compared to health education) were observed; women in the Seeking Safety condition who followed up with TSA had the greatest reductions over time in alcohol use. Reductions in cocaine use over time were also observed but did not differ between treatment conditions nor were there interactions with post-treatment TSA.


Findings advance understanding of the complexities for treatment and continuing recovery processes for women with PTSD and SUDs, and further support the chronic disease model of addiction.


Treating depression and substance use: no significant difference from control

On the Threshold of Eternity
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Another study finds treatment as usual to be just as effective as specialized CBT:

Few integrated substance use and depression treatments have been developed for delivery in outpatient substance abuse treatment settings. To meet the call for more “transportable” interventions, we conducted a pilot study to test a group cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT) for depression and substance use that was designed for delivery by outpatient substance abuse treatment counselors. Seventy-three outpatient clients were randomized to usual care enhanced with group CBT or usual care alone and assessed at three time points (baseline and 3 and 6 months postbaseline). Our results demonstrated that the treatment was acceptable and feasible for delivery by substance abuse treatment staff despite challenges with recruiting clients. Both depressive symptoms and substance use were reduced by the intervention but were not significantly different from the control group. These results suggest that further research is warranted to enhance the effectiveness of treatment for co-occurring disorders in these settings.

A New Paradigm for Substance Abuse Treatment

From Robert DuPont, MD:

Substance abuse treatment is committed to abstinence from nonmedical drug use. Yet, continued nonmedical drug and alcohol use and relapse are so common that they are often defined as part of the disease itself.

A “new paradigm” for care management has been pioneered over the past four decades by the state Physician Health Programs (PHPs).PHPs provide diagnostic evaluation, treatment referral, close monitoring and support services to health care professionals who have conditions, including in particular substance use disorders, which can impair their ability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety. In dealing with substance use disorders, PHPs use a zero tolerance standard for any alcohol or other drug use, enforced by intensive random testing and close linkage to the 12-step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to produce remarkable long-term outcomes. These outcomes set a far higher standard for success in treatment and they cast doubt on the definition of addiction as being characterized by relapse. They demonstrate that the environment in which the decision to use or not to use alcohol and drugs is a powerful determinant of outcomes.


While some may dismiss the PHP results because physicians are a uniquely advantaged patient population, a similar approach has produced outstanding results in a dramatically different population of addicted people — convicted felons on probation. A randomized control study of the pioneering HOPE Program showed that compared to a control group of standard probationers, HOPE participants were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for new crimes, 72 percent less likely to use drugs, 61 percent less likely to miss appointments with probation officers and 53 percent less likely to have their probation revoked.3 HOPE probationers were sentenced to 48 percent fewer days of incarceration.

The new paradigm of long-term monitoring with swift, certain and serious consequences for any detection of drug or alcohol has the potential to substantially improve long-term outcomes for substance abuse treatment.

Now, I’m not interested in a paradigm that makes consequences a central element.

However, what’s important here is that there is a very effective treatment for this chronic illness and, like most treatments for chronic illnesses, we struggle with engagement and compliance. In the case of addiction, why do we respond to those struggles with a lowering of the bar?