Acceptance and Commitment Therapy versus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorder with Incarcerated Women



Patricia Villagrá Lanza, Paula Fernández García, Filomena Rodríguez Lamelas, Ana González-Menéndez

Journal of Clinical Psychology

21 JAN 2014

DOI: 10.1002/jclp.22060



This randomized controlled study compared acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and a control group.


The participants were 50 incarcerated women diagnosed with current substance use disorder. Two psychologists carried out pre- and posttreatment assessment and a 6-month follow-up assessment using the following instruments: Anxiety Sensitivity Index, Addiction Severity Index-6, Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, and Acceptance and Action Questionnaire.


The study shows that the women who received treatment benefited differentially from the interventions. At posttreatment, CBT was more effective than ACT in reducing anxiety sensitivity; however, at follow-up, ACT was more effective than CBT in reducing drug use (43.8 vs. 26.7%, respectively) and improving mental health (26.4% vs. 19.4%, respectively).


ACT may be an alternative to CBT for treatment of drug abuse and associated mental disorders. In fact, at long-term, ACT may be more appropriate than CBT for incarcerated women who present serious problems.