Youths With PTSD Benefit From Substance Abuse Treatment Program

October 30, 2017

By Andrew D. Bowser

WASHINGTON, DC -- October 30, 2017 -- Youths with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) participating in a substance treatment education prevention program had outcomes comparable to youths without PTSD, according to a study presented here at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).

“Preliminarily, this seems like it is a good model to continue to study and to work with in thinking about treating really complex individuals with a complex dual diagnosis,” said Sean LeNoue, MD, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, Colorado.

To better understand the relationship between PTSD and adolescent substance abuse treatment outcomes, the researchers analysed 82 adolescents (mean age, 16.6 years) enrolled in 1 of 4 outpatient substance treatment sites in Denver. Of that group, 30 (36.6%) had PTSD.

All patients were offered 12 weeks of individualised treatment. Youth with PTSD completed a mean of 7.3 treatment sessions, similar to 7.8 sessions in those without PTSD.

Results showed that 63% of patients with PTSD achieved a week of abstinence from substance abuse during treatment. Similarly, 59% of youths with no PTSD achieved a week of abstinence (P = .6885).

Youth with PTSD also had a similar decrease in proportion of days of substance use (0.1 for PTSD vs 0.2 for no PTSD; P = .5384) and similar number of negative urine drug screens during treatment (8.0 and 7.5, respectively; P =.8201).

The substance abuse program included acceptance and commitment therapy combined with, motivational interviewing, contingency management, family sessions, and medication-assisted treatment -- all combined with medication and assisted follow-through.

Dr. LeNoue noted that sources of PTSD in young people can be related to domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, or witnessing shootings or other traumatic events within neighbourhoods.

“We're seeing an ever increasing number of individuals coming into our hospital and school-based clinics with PTSD, and co-morbid substance abuse disorders,” he said.

[Presentation title: Comparison of Substance Treatment Outcomes for Youth With and Without Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Abstract 3.4]

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