Recovery housing and treatment programs reduce relapse among recovering opioid addicts

February 28, 2012

Opioid-dependent individuals who want to kick the habit typically begin the road to recovery with detoxification. But detox is ineffective as a stand-alone treatment, with relapse rates ranging from 65% to 80% just one month after discharge. New research published online today in the journal Addiction reveals that individuals with substance use disorders may be as much as ten times more likely to stay abstinent when they have access to drug-free recovery housing and day-treatment programs following detox.

Opioid abuse, which includes the use of illegal substances such as heroin and the nonmedical use of prescription painkillers like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin, has reached epidemic levels in the United States. According to a November 2011 press release from the (CDC), the death toll in the US from of prescription painkillers has more than tripled in the past decade, with more than 40 people dying each day. In 2010, 12 million people in the US reported using prescription painkillers for nonmedical use, according to the CDC's National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

To find out if opioid-dependent individuals achieve higher abstinence rates given access to recovery housing and day treatment, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine followed 243 patients -- primarily heroin users -- after their release from detox. Eighty-three patients received 12 weeks of rent-free recovery housing and were required to remain drug-free during their residency. Eighty more patients received 12 weeks of recovery housing plus 26 weeks of outpatient treatment, including cognitive behavioral , recreational activities, vocational assistance, and individual counseling. The final eighty patients received referrals for aftercare treatment at other community programs. The researchers assessed all participants at one, three, and six months after detox to see how many had remained abstinent.

The overall abstinence rate for participants given no housing or treatment was a disappointing 13%, but patients who received housing showed a 37% abstinence rate, and among the group that received housing plus day treatment, 50% were abstinent. At each of the three assessment points, participants receiving housing plus treatment were twice as likely to remain abstinent than those receiving housing only, and ten times more likely to remain abstinent than those receiving no housing or treatment at all.

In general, the best outcomes came from participants who stayed in recovery housing the longest, and access to day treatment tended to promote longer residencies: an average of 49.5 days versus 32.2 days for housing residents who received no day .

Says lead researcher Michelle Tuten: "It's no surprise that opioid-dependent individuals stay off drugs longer when they live in a structured, drug-free environment after finishing detox. Drug-dependent individuals frequently report housing as their most pressing need. If we want to help people stay off heroin and stop abusing , we need to do more than help them initiate abstinence; we need to help them maintain abstinence and build a drug-free life style as well. Improved access to drug-free recovery housing and day-treatment programs would clearly move us closer to that goal."

Explore further: Suboxone is most effective in treating painkiller addiction

Related Stories

Suboxone is most effective in treating painkiller addiction

November 7, 2011
Individuals addicted to prescription painkillers are more likely to succeed in treatment with the aid of the medication buprenorphine-naloxone (Suboxone), report McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers in today's ...

Homeless heavy drinkers imbibe less when housing allows alcohol

January 19, 2012
A study of a controversial housing project that allows chronically homeless people with severe alcohol problems to drink in their apartments found that during their first two years in the building residents cut their heavy ...

UBC-Providence Health research to examine new treatments for heroin addiction

October 12, 2011
A clinical trial to test better treatment options for chronic heroin addiction is expected to begin in Vancouver at the end of this year. Led by researchers from Providence Health Care and the University of British Columbia, ...

Study shows young adults want to recover from addiction but need help to make it happen

September 30, 2011
Young adults undergoing addiction treatment arrive ready and willing to make the personal changes that bring about recovery, but it's the help and guidance received during treatment that build and sustain those changes, according ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use may not aid patients in opioid addiction treatment

December 4, 2017
Many patients who are being treated for opioid addiction in a medication-assisted treatment clinic use marijuana to help manage their pain and mood symptoms.

For opiate addiction, study finds drug-assisted treatment is more effective than detox

November 23, 2017
Say you're a publicly insured Californian with an addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription narcotics, and you want to quit.

Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

November 17, 2017
A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use ...

Insomnia linked to alcohol-use frequency among early adolescents, says new psychology study

November 8, 2017
Insomnia is linked to frequency of alcohol use among early adolescents, according to new Rutgers University–Camden research.

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

October 25, 2017
More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according ...

Trying to get sober? NIH offers tool to help find good care

October 3, 2017
The phone calls come—from fellow scientists and desperate strangers—with a single question for the alcohol chief at the National Institutes of Health: Where can my loved one find good care to get sober?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.