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Study finds some addicts are more likely to relapse than others

Old habits die hard, and nothing retains more strength than habit. It has been observed that bad habits can be as addictive as good habits, but it is definitely not so rewarding. Use of substances gradually takes the shape of a habit which is not so easy to give up. Getting back to substance use after a phase of abstinence is referred to as addiction relapse. For an ordinary person, it is resorting to the old bad habit again.

A recent study by the McMaster University, published in the journal Substance Abuse Research and Treatment in April 2016, suggested that those who abuse opioids later in life use injections for drugs or increase the use of downers before drug treatment are at a greater risk to relapse.

More aggressive therapies for those at high risk

In the study, titled “A Prospective Study to Investigate Predictors of Relapse among Patients with Opioid Use Disorder Treated with Methadone,” the researchers said that continuation of opioid use while receiving methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is a serious issue. The objective of the study was to explore how long an addict remains addiction-free following an addiction treatment like MMT.

“We can improve our tailoring of treatment to each patient if we know who among patients taking methadone treatment is at high risk for opioid relapse. As well, healthcare providers can target more aggressive therapies to those at high risk,” said Dr. Zena Samaan, principal author of the study and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

The scientists observed 250 adults receiving MMT for an average of four years across 13 clinical sites in Ontario. The researchers observed that:

  • Those who injected drugs had more than twice the risk of relapse due to opioid use during the treatment process as compared to those who took drugs by methods other than injection.
  • There is a 10 percent greater tendency to relapse for every year rise in age of commencing opioid abuse.
  • There is a 7 percent increased tendency to relapse due to benzodiazepine use during the month prior to the treatment; the older a person, the lesser the risk of relapse, with the current age carrying a 7 percent reduction in relapse.

Stressing on the importance of the observations made during the research process, first author of the research paper and a student of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, Leen Naji said, “Since opioid disorder is chronic, remitting and relapsing, we wanted to find those factors that led to longer abstinence from illicit opioids.”

Though many researches in the past focused on the problem of drug abuse and its treatment, this was the first study to consider the time period a patient can abstain from relapsing to illicit opioid use while undergoing MMT.

Relapse rate of chronic diseases not different from addiction

Relapse is not uncommon during the convalescence process. Many addicts try to get drugged at least once or multiple times during the treatment period. Researchers believe that addiction is a prolonged ailment just as any other chronic disease, like asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure. The relapse rates of the chronic diseases are not different from addiction, and hence it is imperative that every incidence of relapse be viewed as an opportunity to upgrade and strengthen the treatment procedure.

For parents and guardians who see their children struggling consistently to achieve complete sobriety, it is of utmost importance to know about conditions that spark off tendencies to relapse in recovering drug addicts. Addicts bereft of the use of drugs find it exceedingly difficult to cope with struggles of life which may result in frustration, stress, anxiety and, subsequently, depression.

Road to recovery

Addicts, even after having received treatment, often exhibit tendencies to fall off the wagon. Achieving complete abstinence is the toughest part of the recovery process, though it is not something that cannot be achieved. Choosing the right treatment facility is the first step towards deaddiction and relapse prevention in drug addicts.

The 24/7 Recovery Helpline can assist you in finding effective treatment programs and facilities for your addiction problems. You may chat online with one of our experts or call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 to know about one of the best drug addiction treatment centers or drug rehab centers.

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