A recent RCT study of 353 women that were assigned to either 12 sessions of trauma-focused or health education group treatment showed that PTSD severity reductions were more likely associated with substance use improvement, whereas minimal reduction in PTSD was found with substance use reduction.
These findings have important implications because of the high rate of comorbidity between PTSD and drug addiction. These findings also support earlier research.
This research calls into question the commonly held assumption that abstinence from substances should be gained before undertaking exposure therapy. The previously held assumption that beginning trauma therapy before reduction or elimination of substance use will lead to an increase in substance use has not been borne out.
The evidence suggests that when treating comorbid PTSD and substance use the clinicians should actively initiate integrated treatment to address the PTSD actively while working on the substance abuse.
At Safe Harbor’s Capella Treatment Center for women both PTSD and drug addiction can be dealt with at the same time in a safe environment. Find more information here.