The new treatment manual is based on an integrated treatment approach that utilises exposure therapy, called Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE).The efficacy of the treatment was demonstrated by researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), with the results of their randomised controlled trial published to international acclaim in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this month.
The NDARC study found that individuals with addictions could safely be treated for posttraumatic stress without exacerbating their substance use. Clients who received the COPE therapy, where they are exposed to their traumatic memories in 90 minute sessions with a clinical psychologist, not only reduced their symptoms of PTSD, they experienced no worsening of their substance use compared with a control group who received treatment as usual for their substance use.
An estimated 350,000 Australians have comorbid PTSD and substance use and close to 90 per cent of individuals receiving treatment for substance use have experienced multiple traumas; around half have active PTSD.
But a conservative approach to treatment, based on fears that exposure therapy will exacerbate alcohol and other drug use, means that a majority of sufferers have been excluded from treatment, says study lead author Dr Katherine Mills.
“Our positive findings indicate that by using an integrated treatment program such as this, the many Australians who suffer from both of these conditions can be treated successfully.”
The COPE manual is designed for clinicians with postgraduate qualifications in counselling, psychology or psychiatry, and with formal training in the delivery of cognitive behavioural treatment for substance use disorders and PTSD. COPE can be delivered in both an out-patient and in-patient setting.
The launch of the manual will take place during the Trauma, Self medication and Treatment session of the NDARC Annual Symposium. You can still register for the event but hurry: registrations close COB Tuesday August 21.
What: The launch of Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE) treatment manual
When: 28 August 2012
Where: NDARC Annual Symposium, University of New South Wales, Sydney
To read the paper that appeared in JAMA, please see the attachment below.