Review of EMDR Interventions for Individuals With Substance Use Disorder With/Without Comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
A large proportion (11%–60%) of people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also suffer from substance use disorder (SUD). As the high cooccurrence of PTSD and SUD leads to a worsening of psychopathological severity, development and evaluation of integrated treatments become highly valuable for individuals presenting with both diagnoses. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy may fit these needs. This article summarized all studies that investigated EMDR treatment for SUD, to clarify whether EMDR might be a useful approach. A comprehensive Title/Abstract/Keyword search was conducted on PsycInfo, PsychArticle, PubMed, and Scopus databases. A total of 135 articles were retrieved, and 8 articles met inclusion/exclusion criteria. One RCT and one case study evaluated trauma-focused EMDR; one clinical RCT, one non-clinical RCT, one cross-over study, and one case study evaluated addiction-focused EMDR; and one quasi-experimental and one multiphase case study evaluated the combination of addiction-focused and trauma-focused EMDR. Results show that EMDR treatment consistently reduces posttraumatic symptoms, but that its effects on SUD symptoms are less evident. Although EMDR should be considered as a promising tool for this population due to its possible potential to improve SUD outcomes, further research is needed to see whether EMDR therapy, either trauma-focused or addiction-focused, is effective for SUD. We conclude with suggestions for future research and clinical practice in this area.