Johannes Strasser

Universitäre Psychiatrische Kliniken Basel, Bâle, Basel-City, Switzerland

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Publications (7)19.63 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Background Cocaine has become one of the drugs of most concern in Switzerland, being associated with a wide range of medical, psychiatric and social problems. Available treatment options for cocaine dependence are rare. The study sought to compare combined prize-based contingency management (prizeCM) plus cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to CBT alone in cocaine-dependent patients. Methods Sixty cocaine-dependent patients participated in a randomized, controlled trial with two treatment conditions. The participants were randomly assigned to the experimental group (EG; n = 29), who received CBT combined with prizeCM, or to the control group (CG; n = 31), who received CBT only during 24 weeks. The primary outcome measures were retention, at least 3 consecutive weeks of cocaine abstinence, the maximum number of consecutive weeks of abstinence and proportions of cocaine-free urine samples during the entire 24-week and at 6-month follow-up. Results Sixty-three percent of the participants completed the study protocol. Participants in both groups significantly reduced cocaine use over time. Overall, no difference in cocaine-free urine screens was found across the two treatment groups, except at weeks 8, 9, 10, 17 and 21 in favor of the EG. Conclusions The addition of prizeCM to CBT seems to enhance treatment effects, especially in the early treatment period, supporting results from previous studies. Both the combined intervention and CBT alone, led to significant reductions in cocaine use during treatment and these effects were sustained at 6-month follow-up. These findings underline the importance in implementing CM and CBT interventions as treatment options for cocaine dependence in the European context.
    Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Benzodiazepine (BZD) use is widespread among opioid-maintained patients worldwide. We conducted a cross-sectional survey to investigate motives and patterns of BZD use and psychiatric comorbidity in a convenience sample of patients (n=193) maintained on oral opioid agonists or diacetylmorphine (DAM). Prolonged BZD use and high-risk behaviors like parenteral use were common. After principal component analysis, motives were divided into those related to negative affect regulation, positive affect regulation (i.e. reward-seeking) and somato-medical problems. Negative affect regulation and somato-medical motives were associated with prolonged use. Psychiatric comorbidity was associated with several self-therapeutic motives, most importantly to lose anxiety. Patients maintained on DAM were more likely to be ex-users of BZD and report high positive affect regulation. Therefore, patients maintained on different agonists may have deviating motives for BZD use, which could be of importance when addressing this issue. Treatment of psychiatric comorbidity, in particular anxiety, depressive and sleeping disorders, may be helpful in reducing BZD use, particularly in patients maintained on oral opioids.
    Addictive behaviors 05/2013; 38(10):2477-2484. · 2.25 Impact Factor
  • J. Strasser, M. Vogel
    Suchtmedizin. 01/2013; 15(5):274-279.
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    ABSTRACT: Cocaine dependence has proved difficult to treat, whether it occurs alone or in combination with opiate dependence. No intervention has been demonstrated to be uniquely effective. Patients might benefit most from combined pharmacotherapeutic and psychotherapeutic interventions. The present study sought to evaluate the feasibility, tolerability, and efficacy of methylphenidate (MP) and cognitive-behavioral group therapy (CBGT) for cocaine dependence in diacetylmorphine-maintained patients. Sixty-two cocaine-dependent diacetylmorphine-maintained patients participated in a dual-site, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial with 4 treatment conditions. The participants were randomly assigned to receive MP or a placebo each combined with either CBGT or treatment as usual for 12 weeks. Methylphenidate 30 mg and a placebo in identical capsules were administered onsite twice daily under supervision in a fixed-dose regimen without titration. Manual-guided CBGT consisted of 12 weekly sessions. Participation in the CBGT sessions was voluntary. Primary outcome measures were retention in pharmacologic treatment, cocaine-free urine samples, self-reported cocaine use, and adverse effects. Urine screens were performed thrice weekly. Seventy-one percent of the participants completed the study protocol. Methylphenidate was well tolerated with similar retention rates compared with the placebo. No serious adverse effects occurred. No difference in cocaine-free urine screens was found across the 4 treatment groups. Self-reported cocaine use was reduced in all 4 study groups. Methylphenidate and CBGT did not provide an advantage over a placebo or treatment as usual in reducing cocaine use. There were no signs of additive benefits of MP and CBGT. Because of the small sample size, the results are preliminary.
    Journal of clinical psychopharmacology 12/2012; · 5.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Benzodiazepine (BZD) misuse in opioid-maintained patients is widespread and has been related to poorer treatment success. Associated factors, in particular, traumatic childhood experiences, have not been investigated extensively. Cross-sectional survey including the childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ) and clinical data among 193 patients prescribed oral opioids or injectable diacetylmorphine for opioid dependence. BZD use was prevalent (61%) and the burden of childhood traumatic experiences was high with 67% reporting at least one trauma subscore of moderate-to-severe level. In univariate analysis, CTQ-subcategories "emotional abuse" (p<0.05), "emotional neglect" (p<0.01) and "physical neglect" (p<0.001) were significantly associated with prolonged BZD use. In multivariate analysis, prolonged BZD use was associated with categorized overall CTQ-scores (OR 1.5), HCV-seropositivity (OR 4.0), psychiatric family history (OR 2.3), and opioid dose (mg methadone equivalents, OR 1.010). Childhood traumatic experiences may be associated with prolonged BZD use in opioid-maintained patients and could pose an important starting-point for prevention.
    Drug and alcohol dependence 06/2011; 119(1-2):93-8. · 3.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Heavy alcohol consumption may accelerate the progression of hepatitis C-related liver disease and/or limit efforts at antiviral treatment in opioid-dependent patients receiving heroin-assisted treatment (HAT). Our study aims to assess alcohol intake among HAT patients by self-reports compared to direct ethanol metabolites. Fifty-four patients in HAT were recruited from the centre for HAT at the University of Basel, Switzerland. The patients completed the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT), a self-report questionnaire on past-week ethanol intake and provided samples for the determination of ethyl glucuronide (UEtG) and ethyl sulphate (UEtS) in urine and of ethyl glucuronide (HEtG) in hair. Eighteen patients scored above the AUDIT cut-off levels. Twenty-six patients tested positive for UEtG and 29 for UEtS. HEtG identified ethanol intake of more than 20 g/d in 20 additional cases that did not appear in the AUDIT. Using the total score of the AUDIT, HEtG detected 14 additional cases of relevant alcohol intake. The findings of this study, which is the first assessing alcohol intake in HAT patients using direct ethanol metabolites and self reports, suggest the complementary use of both. Improved detection of hazardous or harmful alcohol consumption in the context of HCV and heroin dependence will allow for earlier intervention in this population. This ultimately will contribute to an improvement in quality of life of patients in HAT. Furthermore, a significant reduction of costs can be achieved through a reduction of complications caused by alcohol intake.
    Drug and alcohol dependence 12/2010; 115(1-2):57-61. · 3.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Some patients on steady-state methadone occasionally crave for extra opioids for different reasons (eg, cue-elicited craving, stress). This study examined the acute-on-chronic effects on heroin craving, mood, and opioid-like symptoms of a single, extra half-dose on top of the patient's prescribed daily methadone dosage. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, counterbalanced crossover design was used to test the safety of this practice and the hypotheses that extra methadone would reduce heroin craving and improve mood, with greater responses in lower-dose (20-60 mg/d) as compared with higher-dose patients (80-120 mg/d). Fourteen stabilized methadone-maintained volunteers of each dose group were examined predrug and postdrug on 2 separate days using a range of self-report measures (Heroin Craving Questionnaire, visual analogs, Befindlichkeits-Skala, Short Opiate Withdrawal Scale, and Opioid Agonist Scale). Additionally, patients' expectations and guesses regarding treatment were assessed predrug and postdrug, respectively. No adverse effects occurred after extra methadone. Participants could not reliably distinguish between extra methadone and placebo. Repeated-measures analyses of variance showed no effects of extra methadone on heroin craving and opioid agonist effects. However, extra methadone improved mood on the Befindlichkeits-Skala (F1/24 = 4.71, P = 0.04), with marginally greater effects in lower-dose patients ((F1/24 = 2.94, P = 0.099). A single 50% extra methadone dose is most likely safe in patients on stable methadone doses of 20 to 120 mg/d and may improve patients' mood. Extra methadone may constitute an important factor in the attractiveness of maintenance treatment and may enhance treatment outcome.
    Journal of clinical psychopharmacology 08/2010; 30(4):450-4. · 5.09 Impact Factor