Substance use

Therapies for dual diagnosis

What is psychotherapy for dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis describes a condition when a person with both a mental health diagnosis such as PTSD and a substance use disorder. This comorbidity is associated with poorer treatment outcomes than for either condition alone. Several psychological therapies are successful at treating each disorder individually, however when occurring together, they may be harder to treat.

What is the evidence for psychotherapy for dual diagnosis?

Moderate to low quality evidence found a small improvement in PTSD symptoms in people with a dual diagnosis following individual psychological treatments that have a trauma focus when compared to treatment as usual. This effect remained for up to seven months. There was also a small reduction in substance use with individual psychological therapy with a trauma-focus at 5 to 7 months follow-up, but not immediately following treatment. The only other significant improvement in substance use was with a full dose of a group therapy called Seeking Safety. This was found immediately post-treatment but not at follow-up. There were no significant benefits for PTSD symptoms or substance use with non-trauma-based treatments or with other group treatments.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 3:13 am, 13th October 2021
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