Depressive symptoms and associated clinical characteristics in outpatients seeking community-based treatment for alcohol and drug problems

Katherine Sanchez, Robrina Walker, Aimee N C Campbell, Tracy L. Greer, Mei Chen Hu, Bruce D. Grannemann, Edward V. Nunes, Madhukar H. Trivedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Comorbid psychiatric and substance use disorders are common and associated with poorer treatment engagement, retention, and outcomes. This study examines the presence of depressive symptoms and the demographic and clinical correlates in a diverse sample of substance abuse treatment seekers to better characterize patients with co-occurring depressive symptoms and substance use disorders and understand potential treatment needs. Methods: Baseline data from a randomized clinical effectiveness trial of a computer-assisted, Web-delivered psychosocial intervention were analyzed. Participants (N = 507) were recruited from 10 geographically diverse outpatient drug treatment programs. Assessments included the self-report Patient Health Questionnaire, and measures of coping strategies, social functioning, physical health status, and substance use. Results: One fifth (21%; n = 106) of the sample screened positive for depression; those screening positive for depression were significantly more likely to screen positive for anxiety (66.9%) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; 42.9%). After controlling for anxiety and PTSD symptoms, presence of depressive symptoms remained significantly associated with fewer coping strategies (P =.001), greater impairment in social adjustment (P <.001), and poorer health status (P <.001), but not to days of drug use in the last 90 days (P =.14). Conclusions: Depression is a clinically significant problem among substance abusers, and, in this study, patients who screened positive for depression were more likely to have co-occurring symptoms of anxiety and PTSD. Additionally, the presence of depressive symptoms was associated with fewer coping strategies and poorer social adjustment. Coping skills are a significant predictor of addiction outcomes, and it may be especially important to screen for and enhance coping among depressed patients. Evidence-based interventions that target coping skills and global functioning among substance abusers with depressive symptoms may be important adjuncts to usual treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-303
Number of pages7
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015


  • Depression
  • addiction outcomes
  • coping strategies
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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