Cue exposure with coping skills training and communication skills training for alcohol dependence: 6- and 12-month outcomes

D. J. Rohsenow, P. M. Monti, A. V. Rubonis, S. B. Gulliver, S. M. Colby, J. A. Binkoff, D. B. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims. Cue exposure treatment (CET) has shown promise in preliminary studies with alcoholics, and Communication Skills Training (CST) has been found beneficial, especially in intensive treatment programs. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of CET and CST in a larger controlled study when both were added to intensive treatment programs. Design and interventions. A 2 × 2 design investigated the effects of CET with urge coping skills training compared to a meditation-relaxation control, and CST compared to an education control when all were added to intensive treatment programs for alcoholics. Setting. The sites were the inpatient or partial hospital substance abuse treatment programs at a private psychiatric hospital, a state-funded residential facility and a VA medical center. Participants. Patients diagnosed with alcohol dependence without active psychosis were eligible. Measurements. Participants were assessed for quantity and frequency of drinking, alcohol cue-reactivity, responses to high risk simulations and urge specific coping skills. Findings. Of 100 treated patients, 86% provided 6-month and 84% provided 12-month follow-up data. Patients who received either CET or CST had fewer heavy drinking days in the first 6 months than control patients. In the second 6 months, CET continued to result in fewer heavy drinking days among lapsers and interacted with CST to decrease quantity of alcohol consumed. CST resulted in fewer alcohol-related problems reported at 12 months. CET resulted in greater reductions in urge to drink in a measure of simulated high-risk situations. CET also resulted in greater reports of use of coping strategies during the follow-up, and many of the urge-specific strategies taught in CET were associated with reduced drinking. Conclusions. Both CET and CST continue to show promise as elements of comprehensive alcohol treatment programs. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1161-1174
Number of pages14
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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