Including Housing in Substance Abuse Treatment Program Reduces Relapse Rates

Including Housing in Substance Abuse Treatment Program Reduces Relapse Rates

Individuals who have an addiction to a substance like drugs or alcohol sometimes enter treatment and struggle through detoxification, only to relapse in the months following. For some, multiple attempts are made at treatment programs, resulting in a pattern of treatment and relapse cycles.

A new study offers a new option for increasing success rates for those who go through drug abuse treatment. Researchers at John Hopkins have discovered that when housing is provided on condition of drug abstinence to those who have finished a detoxification program, they are significantly more likely to be drug-free at a six month follow-up.

According to the authors, relapse rates are typically around 65 to 80 percent just 30 days after finishing a treatment program. When they are offered recovery housing in conjunction with an outpatient treatment program, they may be 10 times more likely to remain drug-free when compared to those who exit detoxification with little support afterwards.

The study’s findings are printed in a recent edition of the journal Addiction. The researchers found that even when patients did not receive any therapy following detoxification, the provided housing was approximately five times as likely to keep individuals from relapsing six months later.

Michelle Tuten, M.S.W. is an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. Tuten explains that for some patients this type of treatment is very effective because they have been through treatment and relapse several times. They need something more intensive than detoxification alone.

The researchers assigned 243 opioid-dependent individuals to one of three groups within a detoxification program in Baltimore. In the first group, the participants were given recovery housing for three months as long as they were abstinent. The second group of participants was given housing in addition to a day-treatment program. In the third group, participants were given information about local aftercare programs but were not provided with any additional treatment. None of the patients were given medication to aid in their recovery.

After the first month following detoxification, 60 percent of the participants in the housing plus treatment group were still abstinent. In the housing-only group, approximately 44 percent of participants remained drug-free, and five percent of those left on their own were abstinent at one month.

The overall abstinent rates for the three groups were 50 percent for the housing plus treatment group, 37 percent for the housing only group and 13 percent for the group that did not receive any additional help. Those who receiving housing continued to show better rates of abstinence at the follow-up at six months, despite the fact that relapse rates did rise over the course of the study.

While some did relapse, the authors note that the individuals in this type of treatment program have a chronic disorder with frequent relapses, and the housing program did increase the likelihood that they would remain drug-free for a longer period of time.

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