Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Recognizing the Link between Substance Use and PTSD in Veterans: Development of a Psychoeducational Group Intervention
by Atallah, Bridgette Colwell, Psy.D., Alliant International University, San Francisco Bay, 2012, 165; 3529290
Abstract (Summary)

While research shows that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUDs) co-occur frequently in the veteran population, there is relatively little research on efficacious treatment of this comorbidity. Research shows that in order to successfully resolve these disorders, interventions targeting both must be present in treatment. However, there are few validated treatments for veterans that target both PTSD and SUDs. Furthermore, in order to engage veterans in such treatment, veterans first must recognize both disorders as problematic. In the case of both PTSD and SUDs, there are many internal and external barriers to developing a level of awareness sufficient for leading to treatment seeking. Thus, the purpose of this study was to develop, implement, and evaluate a psychoeducational course, delivered pre-treatment, to increase understanding of the disorders for veterans with comorbid PTSD and SUDs. Ultimately, increased awareness may lead to treatment seeking for both disorders.

The developed intervention was a weekly class for veterans with both PTSD and SUDs, intended to provide education and encourage treatment for veterans with this comorbidity. The course modules were based in psychoeducation, and topics covered the importance of treatment, treatment options, stigma, coping mechanisms, implications if left untreated, and the importance of continuing care, among others.

If successful, this intervention may provide a new approach for reaching veterans with this comorbidity. The results of the initial implementation of this intervention were promising, demonstrating that it achieved its goals of increasing knowledge about comorbid PTSD and SUDs for the participants. Based on qualitative feedback given every other week by participants, common themes were drawn. Themes identified included increased knowledge about PTSD and its comorbidity with SUDS; appreciation for discussion, handouts, and the facilitators; and requests for more class time, structure, and handouts. All measures, including a pre and post-test questionnaire, the aforementioned feedback, and facilitator feedback, indicated that this intervention was helpful. In addition, the participants' scores on questionnaires showed a change consistent with an increase in knowledge of the perceived impact of PTSD on SUDs and vice versa. Limitations of this study, directions for future research, and clinical implications are also explored.

Indexing (document details)
School: Alliant International University, San Francisco Bay
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Group intervention, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Substance use, Veterans
Publication Number: 3529290
ISBN: 978-1-267-65486-1
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