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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Integrated psychological treatment for substance use and co-morbid anxiety or depression vs. treatment for substance use alone. A systematic review of the published literature

Morten Hesse

Author Affiliations

University of Aarhus, Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, Artillerivej 90, 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark

BMC Psychiatry 2009, 9:6  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-9-6

Published: 20 February 2009

Abstract

Background

There is an increasing consensus in favour of integrated treatment of substance use disorders and co-morbid conditions, such as depression or anxiety. However, up till now no systematic reviews have been published.

Methods

Based on a systematic search of MedLine and PsychInfo, 9 trials of integrated treatment for depression or anxiety plus substance use disorder were identified. Where possible, meta-analyses were carried out, using random effects models.

Results

Meta-analyses were carried out for integrated treatment for depression and substance use disorders on a number of outcomes. No meta-analysis could be carried out for integrated treatment for anxiety and substance use disorders, due to multivariate reporting of outcomes in original articles. Integrated treatment for depression and substance abuse produced significant effects on percent days abstinent at follow-up. Differences in retention and symptoms were non-significant, but favoured the experimental condition. For studies of integrated treatment for co-morbid anxiety disorders and substance use disorders, no meta-analysis could be carried out. Several studies of integrated treatment for anxiety and substance use disorders reported that patients assigned to substance use treatment only fared better.

Conclusion

Psychotherapeutic treatment for co-morbid depression and substance use disorders is a promising approach, but is not sufficiently empirically supported at this point. Psychotherapeutic treatment for co-morbid anxiety and substance use disorders is not empirically supported. There is a need for more trials to replicate the findings from studies of integrated treatment for depression and substance use disorders, and for the development of new treatment options for co-morbid anxiety and substance use disorders.