Treating complicated grief and substance use disorders: A pilot study

TitleTreating complicated grief and substance use disorders: A pilot study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsZuckoff, A, Shear, K, Frank, E, Daley, DC, Seligman, K, Silowash, R
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Date PublishedApr
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number0740-5472 (Print)0740-5472 (Linking)
Accession Number16616164
Keywords*Grief, Adult, Clinical Trials as Topic, Depression/psychology, Emotions/physiology, Female, Humans, Male, Pilot Projects, Prospective Studies, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Sex Characteristics, Substance-Related Disorders/psychology/*rehabilitation

Empirically supported treatments for co-occurring substance use disorders (SUDs) and grief problems are lacking, despite the salience of grief pathology in substance abusers. Identification of a syndrome of complicated grief, distinct from bereavement-related depression and anxiety, led to the development of a targeted treatment, but this treatment has not been tried with persons with SUDs. We recruited 16 adults with complicated grief and substance dependence or abuse into an open pilot study of a manualized 24-session treatment, incorporating motivational interviewing and emotion coping and communication skills into our efficacious complicated grief treatment. Completer and intent-to-treat analyses showed significant reductions in Inventory of Complicated Grief and Beck Depression Inventory scores, with large effect sizes. Timeline Followback percent days abstinent increased significantly in both analyses, with medium to large effect sizes, and cravings declined significantly. Study limitations notwithstanding, complicated grief and substance use treatment appears to be a promising intervention that merits further research.

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