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Commentary on the Adding Individual Psychotherapy After Relapse in a Pharmacotherapy Trial: Commentary on the PREDICT Study

Authors

  • Allen Zweben

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Social Work, Columbia University, New York, New York
    • Reprint requests: Allen Zweben, PhD, Professor, School of Social Work, Columbia University, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027; Tel.: 212-851-2387; Fax: 212-851-2205;

      E-mail: az173@columbia.edu

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Abstract

Background

With few exceptions there has been a dearth of research evaluating the independent and combined effects of a promising medication and an effective behavioral intervention for alcohol problems. Few studies have incorporated both theory and empirical findings to ascertain how the combination of medication and behavioral intervention interact or work synergistically to produce better outcomes or why a particular combination of pharmacological and behavioral treatment works better than another combination or either of the interventions employed alone.

Methods

The PREDICT Study is one of the few pharmacotherapy trials that has utilized a behavioral intervention to reduce/delay relapse to heavy drinking. The findings in the PREDICT Study were reviewed to gain a better understanding of how the combination of pharmacotherapy and behavioral intervention can be employed to manage the course of recovery for individuals with alcohol use disorders (AUDs).

Results

Findings in the PREDICT Study show that behavioral interventions and pharmacotherapies have complementary functions that can be utilized to address the differential needs, capabilities, and resources associated with AUDs. However, researchers were forced to rely mainly on their own clinical experiences rather than an overarching conceptual model in determining how the approach should be employed with AUD patients, thereby limiting the conclusions that could be drawn from the study findings.

Conclusions

Different vulnerabilities underlying AUDs should be considered in determining what kinds of behavioral interventions should be paired with particular medications. At the same time, we need to have a better understanding of the clinical course of pharmacobehavioral treatment to deal with the array of problems/situations that arise over the course of combination therapy.

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