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Trauma and Trauma-Focused Therapy in the University of Kentucky SMART Clinic

Opioid misuse is a national public health epidemic. More than 130 people in the United States die each day following an opioid overdose, and over 2 million people meet criteria for an opioid use disorder (OUD). Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which involves use of medication (buprenorphine, methadone, naltrexone) in combination with behavioral therapy or counseling, is the most effective intervention for OUD. Yet, MAT remains less than optimally effective, particularly for patients with psychiatric comorbidity [6]. Novel approaches are needed to improve long-term outcomes for OUD patients. Psychological trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are highly prevalent among individuals with OUD. Over 90% of adults with OUD report a lifetime history of trauma. Among OUD patients engaged in MAT, nearly 20% report experiencing at least one new traumatic event each month, and nearly a third meet criteria for a co-occurring diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Several studies have linked new incidents of trauma as well as the presence of PTSD to poorer MAT engagement and poorer treatment outcomes, including treatment interruption and premature dropout. Preliminary evidence suggests that engaging in trauma-focused treatment for PTSD concurrent with MAT may result in better long-term adherence to medication for OUD. However, recent evidence finds that fewer than half of patients with PTSD in MAT receive any trauma-focused treatment, and even fewer receive evidence-based interventions. Trauma-focused treatments that concurrently address symptoms of PTSD and substance abuse using an integrated approach have been recommended over traditional substance abuse interventions for patients with this complex dual diagnosis presentation. Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE) is a 12-session evidence-based cognitive-behavioral therapy that integrates exposure therapy for PTSD with cognitive-behavioral skills for addressing problem substance use. COPE has demonstrated efficacy for reducing symptoms of PTSD and substance use disorder across multiple trials. Most samples have included patients with alcohol use disorder or mixed substance use disorder diagnoses. The proposed pilot study would collect preliminary feasibility data to support the first trial of COPE for patients with OUD (and other substance use disorders) who are currently engaged in MAT. As such, a primary aim of the current pilot is to obtain patient feedback regarding the acceptability and applicability of COPE for patients with PTSD receiving MAT treatment through the Supportive Medication Assisted Recovery Treatment (SMART) Program within the University of Kentucky (UK) Department of Psychiatry, an outpatient buprenorphine clinic. The investigators believe that it is critical to engage patients directly in the process of intervention development/refinement to determine how an existing evidence-based intervention like COPE might be modified to best fit the unique needs of patients receiving MAT.

Lexington, KentuckyStart: May 2021