SUBSCRIBE
DONATE NOW
DONATE NOW

Another study undercuts the disease model of addiction

Summary and Analysis…

This study adds to existing literature that indicates a large number of people recover from drug and alcohol problems without treatment. This brings into question the National Institute on Drug Abuse claim that drug addition is a “chronic, relapsing brain disease.” In particular, this study finds that:

  • Nearly half of those covered by the study recovered without formal treatment.
  • The most commonly reported resources used to resolve alcohol or drug addiction problems, when help was used, were mutual aid groups (45%). Medication support was relatively low though it has seen an increasing in recent years. We might theorize the increase is associated with the increase in marketing of Medication-Assisted Treatment.

Given the large cohort that recovers without formal treatment, policymakers would be well-advised to ensure research dollars are directed towards recovery-oriented research. Isolating the factors involved in bringing about recovery in nearly half of those with a drug problem could lead to cost-effective ways to address the current crisis.

Excerpted from Recovery Research Institute

The public health impact of opioids, alcohol, and other drug addiction are daily headlines, but what about recovery? This study estimated not just US national prevalence of recovery from alcohol and other drug problems, but also how people recovered. …

  • For individuals & families seeking recovery: This study shows there are tens of millions of individuals who have resolved a substance use problem. Change is possible. Individuals with more challenges and life-impacting substance problems (e.g., opioid versus cannabis substance of choice), however, may increase their chances of problem resolution by seeking formal services with medical and other health care professionals.
  • For scientists: This cross-sectional study shows there are currently tens of millions of individuals who identify as having resolved a substance use problem. This study cannot speak to whether factors that correlated with use of formal services, such as primary substance, were causally related. At the same time, because it is representative of the US adult population and focused on the broader group of individuals who subjectively experienced and subsequently resolved a substance use problem, these data provide important information on the lived experience of those “who used to have a problem with drugs or alcohol but no longer do”.
  • For policy makers: This study shows there are tens of millions of US adults who have resolved a substance use problem. Change is possible. While there is a policy focus on which services should be broadly disseminated to address substance problems in the US – half of the group used no services whatsoever. Funding to support research on these individuals would be critical to inform policies that maximize outcomes for individuals with substance use problems who do not seek services – which makes up the vast majority of the substance use disorder population.
  • For treatment professionals and treatment systems: This study shows there are tens of millions of US adults who have resolved a substance use problem. Individuals who seek formal services, such as inpatient or outpatient treatment, are likely to have greater challenges and life-impacting substance problems (e.g., opioid versus cannabis as substance of choice). More research is needed to understand whether and how different types of professional and non-professional services (psychosocial treatment, medication, mutual-help organizations, other recovery support services like recovery residences) may be combined or integrated over time to help individuals sustain recovery over the long-term.
View Full Original