Trauma-informed Drug Screens for Veterans with Co-occurring Disorders: A Case Series

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Journal of Dual Diagnosis

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Objective: This case series describes and illustrates the effective use of a trauma-informed approach, GLAPE, to provide drug screens for individuals in substance use treatment programs. The GLAPE approach recognizes that individuals who have experienced traumatic events and are recovering from substance use difficulties may also face unique challenges when engaging in mental health treatment. The nature of drug screening procedures in practice may feel invasive and triggering for clients with trauma histories. Finding ways to decrease barriers to treatment and increase engagement and retention are important components of effective substance use treatment. Methods: This case series involved three veteran cisgender men with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and co-occurring substance use conditions in an outpatient addiction recovery program in a Veterans’ hospital. The cases illustrate how recovery can be aided by trauma-informed approaches for urine drug screens. The treatment team evaluated various monitoring modalities and collaborated with each client to form a treatment plan that implemented the GLAPE approach to bolster their recovery. The GLAPE approach includes five components: Giving detailed instructions prior to the urine screen procedure, listening to and eliciting questions and concerns of the client, articulating options and exhibiting flexibility in the procedure to accommodate the needs of the individual client, giving permission to the client to voice concerns at any point during the procedure, and evaluating the process in collaboration with the client, including what could be improved for next time. Results: Use of the GLAPE approach effectively helped to engage and retain military veterans with co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorder within a trauma informed outpatient program. Preliminary evidence from three cases provides that this approach may be useful for use in substance use treatment with clients who have trauma histories. Conclusions: Given widespread use of observed urine drug screens in substance use treatment programs, and prominent co-occurrence of substance use disorder and PTSD, it is essential that staff approach this procedure in a trauma-informed way. This case series illustrates an approach that can improve client experience, aid clients in treatment engagement, and assist staff in the provision of effective care.


Substance use; Treatment; Trauma-informed; Urine screen; Drug; Co-occurring; PTSD; Trauma; Screen


Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry



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