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Am J Addict. 2003;12 Suppl 1:S41-52.

The role of psychosocial treatments in pharmacotherapy for alcoholism.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Medication treatment for alcohol use disorders often includes a psychotherapy component. The most appropriate psychotherapy to use may depend upon characteristics of the patient, the medication, the setting, and the experiences of the provider. To date, little empirical research has investigated these issues with respect to outcomes in clinical trials that combine pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. This paper reviews seven major types of psychotherapy for treatment of alcohol use disorders: brief interventions, motivational enhancement therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, cue exposure therapy, behavioral treatments, behavioral marital therapy, and twelve-step therapy. The theoretical basis for and empirical evidence supporting the efficacy of the therapies are reviewed, with an emphasis on studies that provided pharmacotherapy in conjunction with psychotherapy. Directions for future research in this area are also suggested.

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