A new study suggests that cognitive behavioural therapy - a type of therapy oriented toward problem-solving - may help the depressed in residential treatment programmes for drug and alcohol abuse.
Many people with substance disorders and depression fail to receive treatment for both conditions. "The consequences of this unmet need are great," the study authors write. "The interactive nature of the two disorders leads to poorer depression and substance abuse treatment outcomes compared with the outcomes when only one disorder is present."
Researchers led by Dr Katherine E. Watkins of the RAND Corp. studied patients at behavioural health services facilities in Los Angeles between 2006 and 2009. Every four months, the facilities alternated between providing regular care for substance abuse and care plus cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims to change dysfunctional behaviours through changing the way people think about things.
About 300 patients took part; most, on average, were severely depressed.
After three months, nearly 56% of those in the group with extra treatment had minimal symptoms of depression, compared to only about a third in the group that got regular care; at six months, those numbers were nearly 64% vs. 44%.
Among patients no longer living in a residential treatment facility, those in the group with added cognitive-behavioural therapy had fewer days of drug abuse and fewer drinking days than did those in the control group.
The study appears in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
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