A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by well- known psychologist and researcher Dr. Edna Foa, found that those treated with prolonged exposure therapy and medication did the best in lowering percentage of drinking days and cravings when compared to a variety of different treatment groups six months after treatment.
Exposure therapy is a well-established method used by cognitive behavioral psychologists while naltrexone is a popular medication used in alcohol treatment. In the past, when the alcohol problem was treated without treating PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), the PTSD would become more severe and the individuals would start drinking again according to Dr. Foa.
This finding is similar to my own experience in working with clients that have alcohol and/ or drug problems and co-conditions of PTSD.
They use the alcohol to self medicate themselves from the painful memories and feelings associated with their trauma. Therefore it is important to target both areas for treatment to reduce the risk of relapse.
For the treatment of PTSD, I have increasingly found that EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing ) to be a helpful process which works well in combination with cognitive behavior therapy methods to treat the alcohol and / or drug problems. Based on this new study, it may be worthwhile to recommend naltrexone for more resistant cases.
Increasingly, treatment centers are integrating more comprehensive methods in rehabilitating alcohol and drug issues by including sessions using EMDR, cognitive behavior therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback and yoga therapy.
In my own psychology practice located in Boca Raton, Florida I provide one of the few alternatives to traditional AA meetings and 12 step approaches. Clients can continue to attend 12 step programs if they wish or they are invited to join a SMART Recovery Group on line to support their work with me in individual therapy using cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, hypnosis and yoga based practices.