UW News

October 11, 2005

People with opiate addiction, women with suicidal behavior needed for studies

Puget Sound men and women with an opiate addiction and women with suicidal behavior are needed as volunteers for two studies at the University of Washington designed to refine a therapeutic treatment for borderline personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder is a serious but treatable psychiatric disorder, according to Marsha Linehan, UW psychology professor and director of the Behavioral Research & Therapy Clinics, who is directing the research. An estimated 5.8 to 8.7 million Americans, mostly women, suffer from borderline personality disorder.

People with it have a multiple spectrum of disorders that is marked by emotional instability, difficulty in maintaining close relationships, eating disorders, uncertainty about life goals, and impulsive and addictive behaviors such as using drugs and alcohol. People with the disorder also may in engage in self-injurious behaviors or attempt suicide.

To participate in one of the studies, volunteers must be between the ages of 18 and 60 and live close enough to the UW’s Seattle campus — roughly the area from Tacoma to Everett — so they can receive treatment once or twice weekly. Volunteers can be self-referred or referred by a therapist, family member or friend.

For one study, funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the researchers are looking for 70 men and women who are addicted to such opiates as heroin, morphine, codeine, vicodin and oxycodone. People who are presently receiving successful treatment with methadone or another opiate replacement medication are not eligible to participate. People accepted as volunteers will receive suboxone, a new replacement drug, and half will receive cognitive behavior therapy. The other half will receive suboxone plus drug counseling.

The second study, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, needs 50 women who have a long-running pattern of using inappropriate behavior to deal with emotional pain. Women with a serious psychotic disorder or a seizure disorder that requires medication are not eligible for this study.

Individuals with borderline personality disorder typically have difficulty regulating their emotions and “are typically told they can’t be treated,” said Linehan.

The two studies are part of a UW research effort to distill the essential elements of therapeutic approaches to effectively treat borderline personality disorder and to treat specialized populations who have the disorder.

People who would like to volunteer for either study or have questions should contact Angela Murray, who heads the assessment team at the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics at (206) 543-2782, extension 1, or murraya@u.washington.edu . Information also is available on the Web at http://www.brtc.psych.washington.edu/  


For more information, contact Linehan at (206) 543-2782 or linehan@u.washington.edu