In a new study, researchers found although fighting opioid addiction is tough, it is possible to recover from the disease.
They found people who are in recovery need more services for a longer period of time to maintain their health outcomes.
The research was conducted by a team from Massachusetts General Hospital.
The team used data from the 2017 National Recovery Survey, which showed 1.2 million American adults are recovering from opioid addiction.
The team found an opioid problem can be overcome, but the results also showed that the road to recovery is likely to be long and challenging.
Recovery will also require more resources than it takes to kick an alcohol problem.
According to the team, it can take up to five years of continuous remission before the risk of symptoms drops to levels seen in the general population.
They found by mid-recovery (between one and five years), people who had resolved an opioid problem were four times more likely to have used pharmacotherapies (drugs to prevent cravings or relapse such as methadone or buprenorphine).
They were two-and-a-half times more likely to use formal addiction treatment (such as cognitive behavioral therapy), and around two times more likely to use recovery support services and mutual help organizations than adults in mid-recovery from an alcohol problem.
In addition, adults recovering from opioid abuse also were more likely than those battling alcohol issues to report low self-esteem.
During early recovery, the two groups didn’t exhibit these differences.
The findings suggest that those who have an opioid problem may need to utilize more services or utilize services for a longer period of time to maintain recovery and achieve recovery durations beyond one year.
The study reinforces the need to incentivize recovery supports over long periods of time.
The lead author of the study is Lauren Hoffman, a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Recovery Research Institute and Harvard Medical School.
The study is published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.
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