The American Journal of Medicine has published a new study which finds that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT) in not effective when treating opioid dependence. The study, which was conducted by seven researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, says that when treating patients diagnosed with opioid addiction, CBT does not offer additional benefits when the patient is already on medication.
The study assessed patients who were currently being treated with drugs such as buprenorphine, which is the most commonly prescribed drug that is used to treat substance abuse. Earlier studies uncovered findings that CBT conducted in association with medications produced improved outcomes.
This study challenges the results of those previous studies, finding that CBT did not improve the effectiveness of standard doctor-facilitated drug treatment among recovering opioid abusers. This study indicated by its results that patients receiving CBT did not reduce their opioid use more than those receiving only medication
The study involved about 140 opioid-dependent patients who were divided into two groups. One group received buprenorphine treatment while the other group received the same drug buprenorphine plus talk therapy.
The authors of the study, including lead author David Fiellin of Yale, point out that the findings of his study could have very significant implications for the field of substance abuse treatment or “recovery.”
Prior to this study CBT had been considered an important element of addiction treatment. However, its impact, when combined with buprenorphine, had not been studied before now.
This is good news for some.
It means that patients will benefit from drug therapy without needing additional CBT counseling. Therapy can be difficult and costly for some patients, so it eases the burden that is placed on them. Also, clinics that operate through funding that comes from the government would be able to provide opioid recovery therapy to more patients at a lower cost without having to sacrifice the overall effectiveness of the treatment.
It is important to discern that this study does not dub CBT as being ineffective.
“CBT is certainly better that nothing at all in terms of treatment” said Brent Moore, co-author of the study. ”Our study simply shows that it does not have an additive effect for patients who are on medication.”
The team of researchers says they intend to look into whether other adjunctive treatments can be added to buprenorphine to improve outcomes of patients in recovery. Also, they hope to be more effective in identifying new ways to aid their patients to recover more quickly.
There really ought to be more research done in this area. Researchers should look at how other methods of counseling or personal relationships improve the chances that the treatment of patients will be more effective than with drugs alone.
- Goldberg, Emma. “Therapy Ineffective for Opioid Addiction.” Yaledailynews.com. Yale Daily News, 22 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.
Filed under: Addiction, Recovery, Research, Treatment · Tags: Addiction, Addiction Treatment, American Journal of Medicine, Buprenorphine, CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, drug addiction, drug therapy, drug treatment, opioid abuse, opioid addiction, opioid dependency, prescription drugs, prescription medication, Recovery, substance abuse