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Group Therapy for Patients With Bipolar Disorder and Substance Dependence: Results of a Pilot Study

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(5):361-367

Background: The authors' goal was to pilot test a newly developed manual-based group psychotherapy, called Integrated Group Therapy (IGT), for patients with bipolar disorder and substance dependence.

Method: In this open trial, patients with DSM-IV bipolar disorder and substance dependence (N = 45) were recruited in sequential blocks to receive either group therapy (N = 21) or 6 monthly assessments, but no experimental treatment (N = 24).

Results: When compared with patients who did not receive group therapy, patients who received IGT had significantly better outcomes on the Addiction Severity Index drug composite score (p < .03), percentage of months abstinent (p < .01), and likelihood of achieving 2 (p < .002) or 3 (p < .004) consecutive abstinent months.

Conclusion: IGT is a promising treatment for patients with bipolar disorder and substance dependence, who have traditionally had poor outcomes. It is unclear, however, how much of the improvement among the group therapy patients is attributable to the specific content of the treatment. A study comparing this treatment with another active psychotherapy treatment is warranted.