Recent research has provided evidence that distress intolerance—the perceived inability to tolerate distressing states—varies based on the domain of distress (e.g., pain, anxiety). Although domain-specific assessment strategies may provide information targeted to specific disorders or maladaptive behaviors, domain-general measures have the potential to facilitate comparisons across studies, disorders, and populations. The current study evaluated the utilization of self-report measures of distress intolerance as domain-general measures by examining their association with indices of behavioral avoidance and substance craving. Two groups of participants (N = 55) were recruited including a substance-dependent group and a comparison group equated based on the presence of an affective disorder. Results provided support for the validity of domain-general measures for assessing distress intolerance across varied domains. The importance of both domain-general and domain-specific measurement of distress intolerance is discussed.
distress intolerance; assessment; substance dependence; affective disorders
Distress intolerance is an important transdiagnostic variable that has long been implicated in the development and maintenance of psychological disorders. Self-report measurement strategies for distress intolerance have emerged from several different models of psychopathology and these measures have been applied inconsistently in the literature in the absence of a clear gold standard. The absence of a consistent assessment strategy has limited the ability to compare across studies and samples, thus hampering the advancement of this research agenda. This study evaluated the latent factor structure of existing measures of DI to examine the degree to which they are capturing the same construct. Results of confirmatory factor analysis in 3 samples totaling 400 participants provided support for a single factor latent structure. Individual items of these four scales were then correlated with this factor to identify those that best capture the core construct. Results provided consistent supported for 10 items that demonstrated the strongest concordance with this factor. The use of these 10 items as a unifying measure in the study of DI and future directions for the evaluation of its utility are discussed.
distress tolerance; distress intolerance; anxiety sensitivity; discomfort intolerance; assessment
The propensity to engage in risk behaviors confers an elevated risk of HIV and other infectious disease transmission in opioid-dependent populations. Although drug abuse treatment may decrease drug-related risk behaviors such as needle-sharing, additional intervention may be needed to reduce HIV risk behavior. In this investigation, we assessed sexual HIV risk behaviors in opioid-dependent patients who were engaging in regular drug use despite ongoing counseling and methadone maintenance therapy. Potential risk and protective factors for engaging in sexual HIV risk behavior were examined. Taking into account demographic, psychiatric, substance use, and psychological variables, the only significant predictor of risk behavior was age. Specifically, younger patients were more likely to engage in sexual HIV risk behavior. The implications of these results for reducing sexual HIV risk behavior and for HIV prevention in methadone-maintained, treatment-refractory opioid-dependent patients are discussed.
age; HIV; methadone; opioids; risk behaviors; substance dependence
Distress intolerance may be an important individual difference variable in understanding maladaptive coping responses across diagnostic categories. However, the measurement of distress intolerance remains inconsistent across studies and little evidence for convergent validity among existing measures is available. This study evaluated the overlap among self-report and behavioral measures of distress intolerance in four samples, including an unselected sample, a sample of patients with drug dependence, and two samples of cigarette smokers. Results suggested that the self-report measures were highly correlated, as were the behavioral measures; however, behavioral and self-report measures did not exhibit significant associations with each other. There was some evidence of domain specificity, with anxiety sensitivity demonstrating strong associations with somatic distress intolerance, and a lack of association between behavioral measures that elicit affective distress and those that elicit somatic distress. These findings highlight a potential divergence in the literature relative to the conceptualization of distress intolerance as either sensitivity to distress or as the inability to persist at a task when distressed. Further research is needed to elucidate the conceptualization and measurement of distress intolerance to facilitate future clinical and research applications of this construct.
Distress Intolerance; Measurement; Task Persistence; Anxiety Sensitivity
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for substance use disorders has demonstrated efficacy as both a monotherapy and as part of combination treatment strategies. This article provides a review of the evidence supporting the use of CBT, clinical elements of its application, novel treatment strategies for improving treatment response, and dissemination efforts. Although CBT for substance abuse is characterized by heterogeneous treatment elements—such as operant learning strategies, cognitive and motivational elements, and skills building interventions—across protocols several core elements emerge that focus on overcoming the powerfully reinforcing effects of psychoactive substances. These elements, and support for their efficacy, are discussed.
Substance Use Disorders; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Contingency Management; Relapse Prevention; Motivational Interviewing
The aim of this Stage I Behavioral Development Trial was to develop a manual-based 12-session Women’s Recovery Group (WRG) and to pilot test this new treatment in a randomized controlled trial against a mixed-gender Group Drug Counseling (GDC), an effective manual-based treatment for substance use disorders. After initial manual development, two pre-pilot groups of WRG were conducted to determine feasibility and initial acceptability of the treatment among subjects and therapists. In the pilot stage, women were randomized to either WRG or GDC. No significant differences in substance use outcomes were found between WRG and GDC during the 12-week group treatment. However, during the 6-month post-treatment follow-up, WRG members demonstrated a pattern of continued reductions in substance use while GDC women did not. In addition, pilot WRG women with alcohol dependence had significantly greater reductions in average drinks/drinking day than GDC women 6 months post-treatment (p < .03, effect size = 0.81). While satisfaction with both groups was high, women were significantly more satisfied with WRG than GDC (p < .009, effect size = 1.11). In this study, the newly developed 12-session women-focused WRG was feasible with high satisfaction among participants. It was equally effective as mixed-gender GDC in reducing substance use during the 12-week in-treatment phase, but demonstrated significantly greater improvement in reductions in drug and alcohol use over the post-treatment follow-up phase compared with GDC. A women-focused single-gender group treatment may enhance longer-term clinical outcomes among women with substance use disorders.
Gender differences; Women; Substance use disorders; Alcohol use disorders; Treatment outcomes; Group therapy
Previous studies have implicated a relationship between particular allelic variations of the serotonin transporter gene (5HTTLPR) and alcohol dependence. To provide a current estimate of the strength of this association, particularly in light of inconsistent results for 5HTTLPR, we conducted a meta-analytic review of the association between 5HTTLPR and a clinical diagnosis of alcohol dependence. Of 145 studies initially identified, 22 (including 8,050 participants) met inclusion criteria. Results indicated that there was a significant albeit modest association between alcohol dependence diagnosis and the presence of at least 1 short allele (OR = 1.15, 95% CI = 1.01, 1.30, p < .05). Slightly more robust results were observed for participants who were homogeneous for the short allele (OR = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.02, 1.44, p < .05). These results were unrelated to sex and race/ethnicity of participants; however, the effect size was moderated by study sample size and publication year. Additionally, the fail-safe N analysis indicated potential publication bias. Therefore, although our review indicates that there is a significant association between 5HTTLPR and alcohol dependence diagnosis, this result should be interpreted with caution.
Serotonin transporter gene; 5HTTLPR; Alcohol Dependence
The Women’s Recovery Group study was a Stage I randomized clinical trial comparing a new manual-based group treatment for women with substance use disorders with Group Drug Counseling. Data from this study were examined to determine whether co-occurring symptoms of depression and anxiety would improve with treatment and whether these improvements would demonstrate durability over the follow-up period. The sample consisted of 36 women (29 WRG, 7 GDC) who were administered self-report and clinician-rated measures of anxiety, depression, and general psychiatric symptoms. Although there were no group differences in psychiatric symptom improvement, analyses demonstrated significant within-subject improvement in depression, anxiety, and general psychiatric symptoms. Symptom reduction was not mediated by changes in substance use. This study demonstrated significant psychiatric symptom reduction that remained durable through 6 month follow-up for women receiving group therapy focused on substance abuse relapse prevention. Reduction in psychiatric symptoms may be an additional benefit of substance abuse group therapy for women.
substance dependence; relapse prevention; co-occurring disorders; gender; depression; anxiety
Assessing treatment fidelity is a core methodological consideration in the study of treatment outcome; it influences both the degree to which changes can be attributed to the intervention and the ability to replicate and disseminate the intervention. Efforts to increase access to evidence-based psychological treatments are receiving unprecedented support; but pressures exist to adapt treatments to service settings, running the risk of compromising fidelity. However, little evidence is available to inform the necessary conditions for the transportation of interventions to service provision settings, and the degree to which fidelity is even evaluated or emphasized in dissemination and implementation programs varies dramatically. Moreover, adaptation is associated with several benefits for dissemination efforts and may address relevant barriers to adoption. A particularly promising strategy for maximizing the benefits of both fidelity and adaptation is the use of transdiagnostic interventions. Such treatments allow for greater flexibility of the pacing and content of treatment, while still providing structure to facilitate testing and replication. Preliminary evidence supports the efficacy of this strategy, which may be particularly conducive to dissemination into service provision settings. At this time, further research is needed to evaluate the relationships among fidelity, adaptation, and outcome, and to determine the potential for transdiagnostic treatments to facilitate dissemination.
Treatment Fidelity; Treatment Integrity; Dissemination; Implementation; Transdiagnostic Treatments
High levels of trait hostility are associated with wide-ranging interpersonal deficits and heightened physiological response to social stressors. These deficits may be attributable in part to individual differences in the perception of social cues. The present study evaluated the ability to recognize facial emotion among 48 high hostile (HH) and 48 low hostile (LH) smokers and whether experimentally-manipulated acute nicotine deprivation moderated relations between hostility and facial emotion recognition. A computer program presented series of pictures of faces that morphed from a neutral emotion into increasing intensities of happiness, sadness, fear, or anger, and participants were asked to identify the emotion displayed as quickly as possible. Results indicated that HH smokers, relative to LH smokers, required a significantly greater intensity of emotion expression to recognize happiness. No differences were found for other emotions across HH and LH individuals, nor did nicotine deprivation moderate relations between hostility and emotion recognition. This is the first study to show that HH individuals are slower to recognize happy facial expressions and that this occurs regardless of recent tobacco abstinence. Difficulty recognizing happiness in others may impact the degree to which HH individuals are able to identify social approach signals and to receive social reinforcement.
hostility; facial emotion recognition; smoking; nicotine
This paper reviews the literature examining characteristics associated with treatment outcome in women with substance use disorders. A search of the English language literature from 1975 to 2005 using Medline and PsycInfo databases found 280 relevant articles. Ninety percent of the studies investigating gender differences in substance abuse treatment outcomes were published since 1990, and of those, over 40% were published since the year 2000. Only 11.8% of these studies were randomized clinical trials. A convergence of evidence suggests that women with substance use disorders are less likely, over the lifetime, to enter treatment compared to their male counterparts. Once in treatment, however, gender is not a significant predictor of treatment retention, completion, or outcome. Gender-specific predictors of outcome do exist, however, and individual characteristics and treatment approaches can differentially affect outcomes by gender. While women-only treatment is not necessarily more effective than mixed-gender treatment, some greater effectiveness has been demonstrated by treatments that address problems more common to substance-abusing women or that are designed for specific subgroups of this population. There is a need to develop and test effective treatments for specific subgroups such as older women with substance use disorders, as well as those with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders such as eating disorders. Future research on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of gender-specific versus standard treatments, as well as identification of the characteristics of women and men who can benefit from mixed-gender versus single-gender treatments, would advance the field.
Gender Differences; Women; Substance Abuse; Treatment Outcome; Predictors; Retention; Treatment Entry