Objective: Comorbidity of substance abuse disorders with schizophrenia is associated with a greater risk for serious illness complications and poorer outcome. Methodologically sound studies investigating treatment approaches for patients with these disorders are rare, although recommendations for integrated and comprehensive treatment programs abound. This study investigates the relative benefit of adding an integrated psychological and psychosocial treatment program to routine psychiatric care for patients with schizophrenia and substance use disorders.
Method: The authors conducted a randomized, single-blind controlled comparison of routine care with a program of routine care integrated with motivational interviewing, cognitive behavior therapy, and family or caregiver intervention.
Results: The integrated treatment program resulted in significantly greater improvement in patients' general functioning than routine care alone at the end of treatment and 12 months after the beginning of the study. Other benefits of the program included a reduction in positive symptoms and in symptom exacerbations and an increase in the percent of days of abstinence from drugs or alcohol over the 12-month period from baseline to follow-up.
Conclusions: These findings demonstrate the effectiveness of a program of routine care integrated with motivational interviewing, cognitive behavior therapy, and family intervention over routine psychiatric care alone for patients with comorbid schizophrenia and alcohol or drug abuse or dependence.