Recovery from opioid use requires persistence and great range of services
BOSTON, U.S.: In order to bring the opioid epidemic in the U.S. under control, researchers and health care providers alike are on the hunt for solutions that will lead affected patients to a successful recovery. The first national study of opioid problem resolution suggests that individuals with opioid use problems may require intensive medical, psychological and social support services over a long period.
For this study, the research team, led by Dr. Lauren A. Hoffmann from the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, investigated a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults who reported having resolved an opioid problem. It was found that those who achieved longer-term recovery (between one and five years since first having resolved the problem) were more likely than individuals who had resolved an alcohol problem to have used formal addiction treatment, pharmacotherapy, recovery support services and support groups. Providing the first national prevalence estimate of opioid recovery, the study suggests that 1.18 million American adults have resolved a primary opioid use problem.
“Essentially, those who resolved an opioid problem in midrecovery were four times as likely to have ever used pharmacotherapies, two-and-a-half times more likely to have used formal treatment, and about two times more likely to use recovery support services and mutual help organizations compared with individuals who reported resolving an alcohol problem and were in midrecovery,” Hoffman said.
“We didn’t find those differences in the first year, and this is important because taken together it suggests that individuals with an opioid problem might require additional treatment or additional resources to achieve longer and more stable recovery duration,” she added.
Compared with individuals with alcohol use disorder, people with opioid problems tend to be more socially stigmatized and have fewer resources available to them and may be less likely to disclose their recovery status to others, which could make them feel more lonely or isolated, the investigators said.
The study, titled “Recovery from opioid problems in the US population: Prevalence, pathways, and psychological well-being,” was published online on Aug. 2, 2019, in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, ahead of inclusion in an issue.