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Prof Psychol Res Pr. 2012 Apr 1;43(2):154-161.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD among Individuals in a Residential Substance Use Treatment Program: A Case Series.

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University of Vermont.


Clients with co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders present a unique challenge for clinicians in substance use treatment settings. Substance dependent individuals with PTSD tend to improve less during substance use treatment and relapse more quickly following abstinence attempts compared to those without PTSD. Recent scientific efforts have focused on understanding the potential benefit of providing PTSD treatment concurrent with substance use treatment. The current case study describes 4 individuals with PTSD in a residential substance use facility who received prolonged exposure therapy for treatment of PTSD, in addition to the substance use treatment. These individuals completed 9 bi-weekly 60-minute sessions of prolonged exposure, as well as in vivo and imaginal exposure homework between sessions. None of the clients met criteria for PTSD at the end of treatment, with these gains being maintained at 3- and 6-months post-treatment. Additionally, the clients did not relapse in response to undergoing exposure therapy. Implications for delivery of PTSD treatment in substance use treatment facilities are discussed.

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