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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2001 Jul;21(1):35-45.

Exposure therapy in the treatment of PTSD among cocaine-dependent individuals: description of procedures.

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  • 1Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs, Charleston, SC, USA.


An estimated 30% to 50% of cocaine-dependent individuals meet criteria for lifetime PTSD. This comorbidity has detrimental effects on clinical presentation, and treatment course and outcome. Cocaine dependence is associated with increased rates of exposure to trauma, more severe symptoms, higher rates of treatment attrition and retraumatization, and greater vulnerability to PTSD when compared to other substance use disorders. These associations underscore the need for effective treatments that address issues particular to PTSD in a manner tolerable to cocaine-dependent individuals. This article describes a manualized psychotherapy developed specifically for individuals with PTSD and cocaine dependence. Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Cocaine Dependence (CTPCD) provides coping skills training, cognitive restructuring techniques, and relapse prevention strategies to reduce cocaine use. In-vivo and imaginal exposure therapy techniques are incorporated to reduce PTSD symptom severity. Primary treatment goals include psychoeducation specific to the interrelationship between PTSD and cocaine dependence, and clinically meaningful reductions in cocaine use and PTSD symptomatology. Secondary goals include a reduction in HIV high-risk behaviors and improved functioning in associated areas, such as anger and negative affect management.

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