Adding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Substance Abuse Treatment Helps with Depression

A new study has found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may alleviate depression among patients in addiction treatment programs. Researchers from the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, said that symptoms of depression are common in individuals suffering from substance abuse problems, but that sometimes patients who seek treatment are only treated for their substance abuse and not their depression. If depression goes untreated, patients are more likely to relapse.

Katherine E. Watkins, MD, MSHS, lead the study, which took place at four different inpatient behavioral health facilities in Los Angeles County, California. Every four months from August 2006 to January 2009, treatment at the centers alternated between usual care for substance abuse and substance abuse treatment plus CBT, modeled in the Building Recovery by Improving Goals, Habits, and Thoughts (BRIGHT) study. The patients were given 16 two-hour BRIGHT sessions over eight weeks.

The study initially involved 1,262 patients; 140 were given both substance abuse treatment and CBT, and 159 received just substance abuse treatment. The patients tended to score in the clinically severe range on a scale of depression symptoms, and nearly half of the patients had suffered from depression over the last 12 months.

Within three months of treatment, those receiving both substance abuse treatment and CBT had mild symptoms of depression, compared to moderate symptoms among those receiving only substance abuse treatment. About 56 percent of those in the combination treatment reported minimal symptoms, while 33.6 percent in the control group reported moderate symptoms.

Within six months, 66.9 percent of those in the combination group had minimal symptoms, compared to 43.8 percent in the control group. Those who left residential treatment after six months and received both substance abuse treatment and CBT reported fewer days of substance abuse compared to those in the control group.

The authors said that their study shows that it is possible to deliver evidence-based mental health care in substance abuse programs by enhancing and expanding the clinical roles of substance abuse counselors. This is important because the lack of efficient treatment for depression in substance abusers impedes their recovery and can lead to relapse.

Source: Medical News Today, CBT Helps Depressive Symptoms For Patients In Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Programs, June 6, 2011

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