Drug-free recovery housing and day treatment programs greatly improve the chances that those addicted to opioids who have gone through detoxification will be able to kick the habit, a new study shows.
Opioid abuse includes both the use of illegal drugs such as heroin and the nonmedical use of prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet.
Opioid addicts seeking treatment typically start with detoxification, but relapse rates within a month of undergoing detox as a standalone treatment are between 65 percent and 80 percent, according to background information in the study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers.
They found that opioid addicts who were provided with drug-free recovery housing and day treatment programs after detox were up to 10 times more likely to remain drug-free.
The researchers followed 243 opioid addicts — primarily heroin users — after the addicts’ release from detox. After six months, the abstinence rate for those who had no follow-up housing or treatment was 13 percent, compared with 37 percent for those who received housing and 50 percent for those who received housing and day treatment.
Throughout the study period, participants who received housing and day treatment were twice as likely to remain drug-free as those who received housing only, and 10 times more likely to remain drug-free than those who received no housing or day treatment.
The study was published online Feb. 27 in the journal Addiction.
“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,” lead researcher Michelle Tuten said in a journal news release.
“If we want to help people stay off heroin and stop abusing prescription painkillers, we need to do more than help them initiate abstinence; we need to help them maintain abstinence and build a drug-free lifestyle as well,” she said. “Improved access to drug-free recovery housing and day-treatment programs would clearly move us closer to that goal.”