Bringing Trauma-informed Practice to Substance Abuse Programs: A Qualitative Analysis of Current Approaches

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Michael Karson

Second Advisor

Jenny Cornish

Third Advisor

Heather Morris


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Substance Abuse Disorders (SUD's), Co­ Occurring Disorder (COD)


Substance abuse is a major problem worldwide and is frequently comorbid with other mental health disorders, specifically Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Exposure to trauma often leads to substance abuse, while substance abuse can increase susceptibility to exposure to traumatic events. Research indicates it is best practice to treat both substance abuse and PTSD simultaneously and with the same provider (Gulliver & Steffen, 2010; Flynn & Brown, 2006; Souza & Spates, 2008). However, frequently treatment providers are reluctant to perform integrated treatment due to beliefs about providing integrated treatment and the most commonly used approaches, which tend to be manualized (Addis, Wade, and Hatgis, 1999; Duncan, 2002). One solution to this problem may be to utilize the trauma model developed by Mary Jo Peebles (2012). A few specific components of Peebles's (2012) trauma model that would work especially well with comorbid PTSD and Substance Use Disorders (SUD's) are accurate assessment, working within the constraints of cognitive impairments, developing an understanding of the functional role of symptoms, exploring the role of shame, identifying dissociation, and developing a therapeutic relationship. This paper outlines ways practitioners can be more effective at treating SUD's and PTSD simultaneously.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


34 pages

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