New research shows young adult opiate addicts benefit far more from residential treatment than outpatient treatment. The study, conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Centre for Addiction Services studied month long 12 step based residential rehabilitation with follow up care. They then compared the rates of relapse to those of outpatient services.
The researchers found that young adults using outpatient services had about a 17% chance of going a year without relapse. Those who used residential treatment services had a 30% chance of going one year relapse free.
While relapse does not necessarily mean the person gives up on their recovery, fewer relapses is a great indicator of the quality of treatment.
"Our results suggest that abstinence-focused, 12-step residential treatment may be able to help young adults recover from opioid addiction through a different pathway than the more typical outpatient approach incorporating buprenorphine/naloxone treatment," says John Kelly, the senior author of the study.
The study also found that young adults who meet the definition of opioid addiction are more likely to be told to start treatment as an outpatient while those with intermittent opioid use are more likely to be encouraged to go for residential rehab. This seems a bit backwards as those with an opiate dependency would theoretically benefit far more from the more intensive treatment provided by residential rehab.
"Right now there is a huge gap between residential and community services in many health systems. Yes, residential treatment can be costly, but with an opioid-dependence epidemic that has led to frequent overdose deaths, it's important to think about what works, not just costs. We have evidence that outpatient treatment for opioid dependence is not as effective in young adults as it is in older adults, so we need alternatives to protect this vulnerable population," said Schuman-Olivier, another member of the research team.