A focus on trauma in the treatment of substance use disorders

Adaptation, implementation and assessment of two evidence-based integrated treatments for trauma and substance use disorders.


  1. To estimate the prevalence of trauma experiences and PTSD in treatment for drug use disorders.
  2. To adapt and implement two different trauma-focused treatment methods as an integrated part of treatment as usual in the municipal treatment of substance abuse.
  3. To assess the feasibility, meaningfulness and efficacy of the trauma-focused approaches


There is a strong link between trauma experiences, PTSD and substance use disorders. This link is very evident in treatment for drug use disorders. Studies indicate that between 30 and 60 percent of people who are in treatment for drug use disorders meet the criteria for PTSD. Research shows that this particular group of people is more difficult to treat for their drug use disorder, and that they benefit more from integrated approaches that focus on both PTSD and substance use disorders


In the project, we adapt and test two different trauma-focused treatment models: ‘Seeking Safety’ (SS) and ‘Creating Change’ (CC) as part of treatment as usual in drug treatment. SS is a present-focused treatment model, and CC is more past-focused. Five treatment centers participate in the study. Three of these centers will be trained in and then conduct SS, and the two others will be trained in and then conduct CC. For each individual treatment course, the client and the counsellor will choose six trauma-related themes that will be implemented in six treatment sessions.

The project is a two-year pilot study. The project runs from September 2022 to September 2024.


The project is funded by TrygFonden.


Professor and psychologist Lisa Najavits, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Boston, USA, who is the developer of SS and CC, is a research consultant on the project. In the project, there will be close collaboration and research visits with Lisa Najavits and her research team in Boston. Psychologist Karsten Abel is supervisor in the projekt.