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Psychiatr Serv. 2006 Jan;57(1):100-6.

Treatment outcomes for women with substance abuse and PTSD who have experienced complex trauma.

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Columbia University School of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York 10027, USA.



This study assessed the effect of cognitive-behavioral therapy on a range of problems associated with complex trauma in a sample of women with comorbid substance use disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


A total of 107 women with current or subthreshold PTSD and a current substance use disorder from an urban, low-income area were recruited from both community and clinical populations. Participants were recruited between 1997 and 2000. A quasi-experimental design was used, and participants who received cognitive-behavioral therapy (N=75) were compared with those in a control group who received no active study treatment (N=32). All participants were given the same list of community treatment resources and told that they could pursue services while participating in the study if they wished.


At the end of treatment (three months postbaseline), compared with participants in the control group, those in the active treatment group showed significant reductions in symptoms of PTSD and alcohol use disorders, with a trend toward reductions in symptoms of drug use disorders. No significant differences were found between the groups on depression, dissociation, and social and sexual functioning outcomes.


These findings underscore the challenge and necessity of addressing the unique and wide-ranging needs of women with substance use disorder who have been exposed to early and multiple interpersonal traumas.

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