No Wrong Doors: Findings from a Critical Review of Behavioral Randomized Clinical Trials for Individuals with Co-Occurring Alcohol/Drug Problems and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2017 04; 41(4):681-702.AC
Prior reviews of behavioral treatments for individuals with comorbid alcohol and drug use disorders (substance use disorder SUD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have not systematically considered whether comparison conditions are matched to target treatments on time and attention. A systematic literature search using PubMed MESH terms for alcohol and substance use disorders, PTSD, and treatment identified relevant behavioral randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that evaluated PTSD-oriented exposure-based treatments, addiction-focused treatments, and coping-based treatments that do not involve exposure to trauma memories. Information pertaining to within-subject changes over time and between-subject differences, quality of control condition, recruitment efficiency, and assessment and treatment retention was synthesized. Alcohol and drug outcomes were described separately when possible. Twenty-four behavioral RCTs were identified: 7 exposure based, 6 addiction focused, and 11 coping based. Seven studies included SUD intervention comparison conditions matched to the target intervention on time and attention. Most of the 24 studies found that participants in both the experimental and control conditions improved significantly over time on SUD and PTSD outcomes. No study found significant between-group differences in both SUD and PTSD outcomes favoring the experimental treatment. Despite greater treatment dropout, there was greater improvement in some PTSD outcomes for exposure-based interventions than the control conditions, including when the control conditions were matched for time and attention. Addiction-focused and coping-based interventions did not generally show an advantage over comparably robust controls, although some coping-based interventions yielded better drug use outcomes than control conditions. When available, interventions that integrate exposure-based PTSD treatment and behavioral SUD treatment are recommended as they are associated with better PTSD outcomes than SUD care matched for time and attention. However, the results of this critical review also suggest that people with SUD/PTSD can benefit from a variety of treatment options, including standard SUD care.