Pioneering research on treatments for traumatic stress and substance use disorder has earned a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship for Dr Emma Barrett, a postdoctoral research fellow at UNSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.
Dr Barrett will collaborate with Dr Sudie Back at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to develop and test an integrated treatment for co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders in young people. The work will build upon her earlier research with Dr Back and NDARC’s Associate Professor Katherine Mills developing an integrated treatment for adults with the same comorbidity.
Dr Barrett says that a holistic, integrated approach is crucial if individuals with this comorbidity are to see any improvements.
“PTSD is a significant issue for people with substance use disorders,” says Dr Barrett. “On treatment programs for substance use around 80-90 per cent have suffered multiple past traumas and one in three are experiencing PTSD.
“Individuals with this comorbidity can present a significant challenge to treatment providers,” says Dr Barrett. “They often present with high levels of anger and an increased risk for violent behaviour with high relapse rates as one disorder feeds the other.
“Results from our trial with adults were extremely promising and I am looking forward to working with Dr Back again to develop a similar integrated treatment for adolescents.”
Emma joined NDARC in 2007 and completed her PhD in 2012 investigating anger and violence among people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Most recently she has been working with the Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use at NDARC where she has been involved in three randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions designed to treat substance use and comorbid mental health conditions.
She will be presented with her Award Certificate tonight in Perth at the 2015 Scholar Showcase & Presentation Dinner.
Media: Marion Downey Communications Manager, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
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