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Study Shows That for Opiate Users, Detox Alone Is Rarely Enough

John Hopkins researchers found that people who got treatment and recovery housing after detox were more than 10 times more likely to remain abstinent after a month than people who went through the detox without a treatment follow-up.

Researchers at John Hopkins Medical School wanted to see if providing long-term opiate addicts recovery housing after a stay in a detox center would significantly increase abstinence rates.

The Study

To find out, they recruited 243 opiate dependent men and women. Each study participant underwent medical detoxification for between 3 and 10 days, depending on need, and after detox each was assigned to one of three groups:

  1. Participants in one group received referrals to community based aftercare programs. They were responsible for funding their own treatment
  2. Participants in a second group received 3 months of free recovery housing, though they could only remain in the sober living home if they remained abstinent
  3. Participants in the third group received 3 months of free recovery housing and free access to a day treatment program

The Findings

 After 30 days:

  • Only 5% of those who received no recovery housing or treatment remained drug free
  • 44% of those living in recovery housing but not attending day treatment remained drug free
  • 60% of those living in recovery housing and attending day treatment remained drug free
  • 50% of those who remained in recovery housing for more than 60 days stayed remained drug free at 6 months post detox

Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Michelle Tuten said, “providing recovery housing to opioid dependent people, with or without additional formalized treatment, results in much higher abstinence rates than detoxification alone."

She notes that although recovery housing isn’t necessarily cheap, that providing housing for chronically relapsing opiate addicts might actually cost less than paying for the health and social costs associated with recurring opiate addiction.

The full study results can be found in the journal, Addiction.

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