Quick Links

Project STEP (Short-Term Exposure for PTSD)

Project STEP (Short-Term Exposure for PTSD)

This study examines how cannabis use affects processes related to recovery from chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Half the participants will be individuals with chronic PTSD and heavy cannabis use and half will be individuals with chronic PTSD and no cannabis use. This study will assess how individuals with PTSD with heavy or no cannabis use perform on a discriminative conditioning and extinction paradigm designed to measure fear extinction learning, and how they respond to a brief daily imaginal exposure treatment in regards to PTSD symptom reduction.

Participant Eligibility

Inclusion Criteria:
• Current PTSD diagnosis based on DSM-5 criteria, with a minimum duration of 12 weeks since the traumatic event;
• Between the age of 18 and 65;
• Current heavy marijuana use (5+ days per week for 3+ months) or no marijuana use in the last 3 months
• Current diagnosis of a cannabis use disorder based on DSM-5 or no current diagnosis of a substance use disorder

Exclusion Criteria:
• Current diagnosis of schizophrenia, delusional disorder, or organic mental disorder as defined by the DSM-5.
• Current diagnosis of bipolar disorder, depression with psychotic features, or depression severe enough to require immediate psychiatric treatment (i.e., serious suicide risk with intent and plan).
• Unwilling or unable to discontinue current trauma-focused psychotherapy
• Any previous experience with prolonged exposure (PE) treatment
• No clear trauma memory or trauma before age 3
• Unstable dose of psychotropic medications in the prior 3 months
• Ongoing intimate relationship with the perpetrator (in assault related PTSD cases).
• Current diagnosis of a substance use disorder according to DSM-5, other than marijuana in the last 3 months.


(206) 685-3617

Additional Study Details

Full Study Title
Marijuana Use, Extinction Learning, and Exposure Therapy in Individuals with PTSD

Study ID: STUDY00001289
Start Date: 04/12/2016
End Date: 01/20/2021

PI: Michele Bedard-Gilligan
Co-I: Richard Ries
Co-I: Cynthia Stappenbeck
Co-I: Nephi Stella
Co-I: Lori Zoellner

Accepts Healthy Volunteers?

Study Site(s)

University of Washington

3935 University Ave NE
Seattle, Washington 98105

, ,


Use the link below to send a message to the study coordinator, or call the number above to speak directly with a study representative.

I am interested in this research study.