Although more treatment providers and health care organizations have begun to view addiction as a chronic and progressive disorder, many admitted patients leave early after the detoxification process. In order to match theory with practice, two modern studies have demonstrated that continued treatment after detox is correlated with more successful recoveries.
Pairing detox with additional services
In 2012, Assistant Professor Michelle Tuten, M.S.W., at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a team of researchers observed 243 opioid-dependent individuals in the Baltimore area who completed a short-term detox program. Participants were split into three groups that received varying levels of recovery-based housing and/or treatment services. After 30 days:
- Sixty percent of people who received housing and treatment stayed sober
- Forty-four percent of those who only received housing remained abstinent
- Five percent of those who did not receive any forms of treatment were drug-free
According to Tuten, “Our research shows that providing recovery housing to opioid dependent people, with or without additional formalized treatment, results in much higher abstinence rates than detoxification alone.”
Time will heal wounds
In 2007, Michael L. Dennis, Ph.D., and colleagues from Chestnut Health Systems conducted a monumental eight-year analysis of recovery and relapse rates. Particularly, Dennis examined the factor of time spent in treatment for approximately 1,200 people. After following up with subjects:
- About one third of individuals who stayed abstinent for less than a year remained abstinent
- Approximately half of people who reached a year of sobriety remained on track
- For those who practice a drug-free lifestyle for at least five years, the risk of relapse is less than 15 percent
The importance of continuing care
The research available highlights how essential it is to follow detox with professional care. Detoxification is only the first step of recovery, not a complete solution. Although this initial treatment physically separates bodies from addictive substances, it takes much more to rid the mind of severe psychological dependencies. In order to make lasting change possible, people struggling with disorder must recognize and talk about the issues that fuel their abusive behavior.
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