A randomized trial of an integrated cognitive behavioral treatment protocol for adolescents receiving home-based services for co-occurring disorders

Jennifer Wolff, Christianne Esposito-Smythers, Elisabeth Frazier, Robert Stout, Judy Gomez, Maya Massing-Schaffer, Bridget Nestor, Shayna Cheek, Hannah Graves, Shirley Yen, Jeffrey Hunt, Anthony Spirito
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 2020, 116: 108055
The current study conducted a preliminary test of whether community mental health clinic staff could implement a multicomponent cognitive behavioral treatment, developed for adolescents with substance misuse (alcohol and/or marijuana) and comorbid psychiatric symptoms. We randomized a total of 111 families, with an adolescent 12-18 years old, referred to a home-based services program for youth with co-occurring substance use and mental health problems, to receive treatment from either masters-level therapists who received intensive cognitive behavioral therapy (I-CBT) training or from masters-level therapists who took part in a typical brief continuing education-style CBT workshop (treatment as usual, or TAU). Each family's therapist and insurance company determined the frequency and intensity of treatment. We administered follow-up assessments at 3, 6, and 12 months. There was a small, but not statistically significant, reduction in the percent days of heavy drinking and marijuana use over time for both conditions, with the overall effect across the three follow-up points favoring the I-CBT condition. There were no differences on alcohol use days or other drug use. There was also a small, but nonsignificant, positive effect over time on externalizing symptoms, depressed mood, and anxiety, favoring the I-CBT condition. Youth in the I-CBT condition relative to TAU had significantly fewer juvenile justice contacts, while the pattern of costly service use varied, with higher rates at 6-month and lower rates at 12-month follow-ups. If therapists pay greater attention to parent training and provide more parent-adolescent communication sessions, outcomes may improve above standard community care. Training enhancements, to better meet the needs of community therapists and their clinic settings, may also produce better overall results for parents and adolescents.

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