Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia in Substance Use Disorders

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  • participants needed
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    Johns Hopkins University
Updated on 2 February 2023
substance use
behavior therapy
drugs of abuse
drug abuse
behavioral therapy
cognitive therapy
substance of abuse
of substance abuse
cognitive behavioral therapy
cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia
primary insomnia
wake after sleep onset
substance use disorder
chronic insomnia
residential treatment


Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) and insomnia are major public health concerns, and each are independently linked to reduced quality of life, disability, and high healthcare costs. Insomnia, characterized by difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or nonrestorative sleep, is prevalent in 10% of the general population and is co-morbid in 70% of patients with SUDs. Primary insomnia and SUDs are chronic, unremitting diseases and have a complex bidirectional relationship. Insomnia symptoms may predate the onset of SUDs and may explain high prevalence of self-treatment. Insomnia may also be a direct effect of intoxication, withdrawal, or abstinence from the substance of abuse. Subjective and objective measures of sleep disruption have been shown in various stages of abuse and recovery. Insomnia is the most well documented predictor of substance use relapse. Treatment specifically targeting chronic insomnia is essential for improved clinical outcomes. Although, chronic insomnia is a well-established, modifiable risk factor, to our knowledge, there are no interdisciplinary residential treatment programs that specifically treat chronic insomnia during acute SUDs treatment. We propose that improved treatment of insomnia as part of a comprehensive reinforcement-based outpatient treatment program will provide an efficient and cost effective opportunity to improve standard outpatient SUD. Converging evidence suggests that prophylactic CBT-I during SUD treatment may have short and long-term efficacy for sleep, and improve attrition. In the proposed study, patients with co-morbid SUDs and insomnia will engage in an 8-week group CBT-I (gCBT-I) program in addition to receiving treatment as usual for SUDs. This study may provide new hope to effectively treat insomnia in SUD and lead to a new standardization of outpatient care. We hypothesize that a CBT-I intervention can be implemented as part of an evidence-based SUD treatment program within a residential facility.


Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a leading cause of global disease burden with significant epidemiological and economic consequences. Sleep disturbances (i.e., difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep) are nearly ubiquitous in individuals with SUDs and may arise from direct effects of the substance or from withdrawal of the substance. Sleep disturbances are reported in up to 70% of individuals entering both detoxification and early recovery programs and may persist for months to years during abstinence. Objective and subjective measures of sleep disturbances are among the best predictors of relapse. Treatment of insomnia (i.e., difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, with significant daytime impairment) during early recovery may improve relapse rates. Insomnia is a modifiable risk factor and responds to psychological interventions. Given the abuse potential of many medications utilized for sleep disturbances and the likelihood of drug-drug interactions over the course of detoxification, a non-pharmacological approach to insomnia remains promising. To date, few studies have evaluated non-pharmacological approaches to insomnia during early substance abuse recovery. One study has evidenced improved self-reported sleep quality in men who were assigned to 2 weeks of daily progressive muscle relaxation training. Robust evidence indicates that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is effective, and in fact is first line treatment for primary insomnia. A preponderance of randomized controlled trials of CBT-I in co-morbid populations suggests it is efficacious to address insomnia in context of ongoing medical and psychiatric illnesses. Despite the possibility that treating insomnia may improve relapse and attrition rates, and evidence that CBT-I is efficacious in improving sleep, there is a dearth of empirical data regarding the prophylactic benefit of initiating CBT-I as part of acute abstinence treatment. This study aims to test the feasibility of implementing a non-pharmacological insomnia intervention for individuals at the Cornerstone clinic at the Helping Up Mission, a residential SUD residential recovery program for men in Baltimore, MD. Participants will be recruited from the Cornerstone clinic, an accredited behavioral health clinic directed by Johns Hopkins faculty and staff, which provides evidence-based SUD treatment to residents of the Helping Up Mission. CBT-I will be incorporated into the outpatient reinforcement-based SUD treatment. The investigators hypothesize that implementation of CBT-I during early SUD recovery is feasible and will lead to improved sleep parameters and improved clinical outcomes compared with those receiving treatment as usual (TAU). The investigators propose a proof of concept study which would first demonstrate feasibility of administering CBT-I for individuals residing in a men's homeless shelter, and will further evaluate the short- and long-term efficacy of CBT for insomnia in individuals with SUDs. This investigation will provide important and novel information regarding potential psychological interventions that may be incorporated into evidence-based SUD treatment.

Condition Drug abuse, Substance Abuse, Drug use, Insomnia, Insomnia, Substance Abuse, Drug use, substance use disorder, substance use disorders
Treatment Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03208855
SponsorJohns Hopkins University
Last Modified on2 February 2023

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