Behavioral Treatment for Substance Abuse in People With Serious and Persistent Mental Illness: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals

Psychiatric TimesPsychiatric Times Vol 24 No 10
Volume 24
Issue 10

Book Review

by Alan S. Bellack, Melanie E. Bennett, and Jean S. Gearon; New York:
Routledge, 2007
280 pages • $49.95 (softcover)

This practical guide is authored by a well-respected group of clinical researchers with extensive expertise in the behavioral treatment of persons who have substance use disorders and serious mental illnesses.

The book begins with a concise but thorough orientation to behavioral treatment for such patients, including a review of the scientific literature pertaining to treatment in this patient group.

Topics covered in the text include some of the most well-developed and empirically supported in this field, such as contingency management, motivational interviewing, skills training (eg, social skills, drug refusal, coping), relapse prevention, and problem solving. The sections that discuss the use of contingent positive reinforcement to support positive behavior change are particularly strong, especially the discussion of monitoring recent substance use through the objective method of urinalysis.

Informative sections are included that provide specific instructions to assist clinicians in proficiently assessing substance abuse issues in patients with mental illness. Accurate clinical assessment of substance abuse behaviors and consequences that present at first meeting can significantly impact the outcome and efficacy of an intervention.

This treatment manual contains well-developed lesson plans for the clinician as well as samples of detailed patient handouts, all of which can be used to support effective dialogues between clinicians and patients in the context of individual and group therapy sessions.

Overall, this guide makes an important contribution to the dissemination of behavioral treatments for substance use disorders in patients with serious mental illnesses. It should become a much-used tool among mental health professionals and can go far toward supporting the implementation of empirically grounded treatments for reducing substance abuse in this challenging population.

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