Investigating the Experience of Individuals with Comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Misuse Attending a Seeking Safety Group

Jac Airdrie, Alexandra Lievesley, Emma Griffith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: There is no specific recommended treatment for the co-morbid presentation of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Use Disorder in the United Kingdom (UK). Seeking Safety, a group-based treatment that targets symptoms of both disorder, has emerging evidence in the United States (US) however to date no UK based studies have explored service users’ experience of attending Seeking Safety or evaluated its impact of the group on mental health symptomology or substance misuse.
Design/Methodology/Approach: A mixed method approach was used to evaluate the acceptability of Seeking Safety for a small sample (n=7) of adult users of a substance misuse service in the UK. Thematic Analysis was used to explore their experiences, derived from individual semi-structured interviews.. We also calculated the number of participants who achieved reliable and/or clinically significant change in mental health symptomology and substance misuse from data routinely collected by the service.
Findings: Seven overarching themes emerged: (1) Strengthening the Foundations of the Self, (2) The Evocation and Management of Emotions, (3) Safety and Validation Provided Relationally, (4) Readiness and Commitment, (5) Content and Delivery, (6) Seeking Safety is Not an Island, and (7) Ending. Most participants with data available both before and after the group made reliable (3 out of 4) and clinically significant (2 out of 3) change for depression and anxiety symptomology, however this was less evident for PTSD symptomology with 2 out of 3 making reliable change and 1 out of 3 making clinically significant change.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Dual Diagnosis
Publication statusAcceptance date - 21 Oct 2021

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