High- and low-structure treatments for substance dependence: role of learned helplessness.


Journal Article

We studied whether pretreatment levels of learned helplessness (LH) were related to outcomes for substance-dependent individuals receiving high-structure, behaviorally oriented (HSB) or low-structure, facilitative (LSF) treatment. The subjects were 120 substance-dependent patients randomly assigned to the HSB or the LSF treatment style for up to 12 weeks of weekly individual counseling. The two groups were compared across pretreatment characteristics as well as in-treatment, end-of- treatment, and 9-month postadmission follow-up outcome measures. Outcomes reflected reduction in problem severity, abstinence, retention, dropout rate, and ratings of treatment benefit. Significant and comparable reductions in symptoms occurred for the HSB and LSF patients both during treatment and at follow-up. Comparisons of other outcomes also did not consistently favor either treatment style. However, significant and consistent interactions were observed between LH and treatment styles with respect to several outcome measures, and these effects were independent of pretreatment levels of depression, addiction severity, and readiness for treatment. Specifically, the more "helpless" patients did significantly better in HSB treatment, whereas the less "helpless" patients had better outcomes in LSF treatment. A matching approach that assigns patients to high- and low-structure treatments based on pretreatment levels of LH might improve treatment outcomes for substance-dependent patients.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Thornton, CC; Patkar, AA; Murray, HW; Mannelli, P; Gottheil, E; Vergare, MJ; Weinstein, SP

Published Date

  • August 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 29 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 567 - 584

PubMed ID

  • 14510041

Pubmed Central ID

  • 14510041

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0095-2990

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1081/ada-120023459


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England