Patients and health care providers are reluctant to pursue cognitive behavioral therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) out of fear that discussing traumatic events during therapy will cause drug relapse.
Approximately 25 percent of people with drug- or alcohol-use disorders also have PTSD.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins discovered emotional problems decrease after a patient’s first therapy session and exposing people to traumatic memories doesn’t cause relapse.
“Now that we have evidence that treating PTSD won’t impact recovery, patients can request therapy, and mental health providers have a duty to make it available to their patients,” Jessica Peirce, Johns Hopkins associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said. “There is a lot more resilience within this population than many health care providers give them credit for, and not offering the proper treatment is doing patients a disservice.”
The discovery was part of a project Peirce and her colleagues at John Hopkins University School of Medicine were working on to determine how to persuade reluctant patients in addiction treatment to participate in PTSD therapy.
The average patient attends one exposure therapy session. When patients were given an incentive, such as money, they attended an average of nine sessions.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported the study.