New treatment manual for co-occurring PTSD and substance use

Image: Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE)
Date Published:
8 Jul 2014
Contact person:
A/Prof Katherine Mills
02 9385 0333

A treatment program developed by NDARC researchers & colleagues to tackle co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders will soon be available to clinicians and patients worldwide thanks to a publishing deal with Oxford University Press.

Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE) is an integrated treatment program that utilises exposure therapy to treat PTSD and relapse prevention to treat substance use disorders. The program is delivered by one clinician and treats both conditions simultaneously.

COPE will be published in two volumes – a therapist’s guide and a patient workbook – in October 2014.

The efficacy of COPE was demonstrated in a landmark randomised controlled trial led by A/Prof Katherine Mills and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2012. The study found that individuals with substance use disorders 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 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.

The development of the COPE treatment program is significant as almost all individuals seeking treatment for substance use disorders have trauma exposure, and up to one half have active PTSD.  

To read more about the COPE manuals, please visit the Oxford University Press website or see the flyer attached:

Therapist guide

Patient workbook