A randomized, controlled trial of the efficacy of an interoceptive exposure-based CBT for treatment-refractory outpatients with opioid dependence

Michael W. Otto, Bridget A. Hearon, R. Kathryn McHugh, Amanda W. Calkins, Elizabeth Pratt, Heather W. Murray, Steven Safren, Mark H. Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Many patients diagnosed with opioid dependence do not adequately respond to pharmacologic, psychosocial, or combination treatment, highlighting the importance of novel treatment strategies for this population. The current study examined the efficacy of a novel behavioral treatment focusing on internal cues for drug use (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Interoceptive Cues; CBT-IC) relative to an active comparison condition, Individual Drug Counseling (IDC), when added to methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) among those who had not responded to MMT. Participants (N=78) were randomly assigned to receive 15 sessions of CBT-IC or IDC as an adjunct to ongoing MMT and counseling. Oral toxicology screens were the primary outcome. Results indicated no treatment differences between CBT-IC and IDC and a small, significant reduction of self-reported drug use, but no change on toxicology screens. Tests of potential moderators, including sex, anxiety sensitivity, and coping motives for drug use, did not yield significant interactions. Among opioid-dependent outpatients who have not responded to MMT and counseling, the addition of IDC or CBT-IC did not result in additive outcome benefits. These results highlight the need for more potent treatment strategies for opioid dependence, particularly among those who do not fully respond to frontline treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-411
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychoactive Drugs
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • anxiety sensitivity
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • coping motives
  • interoceptive exposure
  • opioid dependence
  • treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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