Deadly Opioid Crisis Now ‘More Challenging’ than Alcoholism, Says Big Study
Recovery from the deadly opioid crisis is even more challenging than recovery from alcohol use disorder, according to the results of the first US national study on the opioid problem.
At its peak, the opioid crisis has taken up to 192 lives a day.
The majority of fatalities have been men who have died at three times the rate of women.
The study found that more resources are now required for the recovery from opioid use disorder than even alcoholism, an issue which affects one in eight Americans according to some studies.
Lead author, Laura Hoffman, PhD, said: “Essentially, those who resolved an opioid problem in mid-recovery were four times as likely to have ever used pharmacotherapies, two-and-a-half times more likely to have used formal treatment, and about two times more likely to use recovery support services and mutual help organizations compared with individuals who reported resolving an alcohol problem and were in mid-recovery.
“We didn’t find those differences in the first year, and this is important because taken together it suggests that individuals with an opioid problem might require additional treatment or additional resources to achieve longer and more stable recovery duration,” she added.
The investigators also looked at various measures of psychological well-being and found that whereas levels of self-esteem were higher in the opioid group than the alcohol group in early-recovery, self-esteem levels among the opioid group were lower than the alcohol group in the mid-recovery period.
Lower self-esteem in mid-recovery may be related to the extra challenges of opioid recovery, including longer duration or greater use of treatment and recovery services relative to alcohol recovery, more frequent relapses and societal attitudes about opioids.
Compared with individuals with alcohol use disorder, people with opioid problems tend to be more socially stigmatized, have fewer resources available, and may be less likely to disclose their recovery status to others, which could make them feel more lonely or isolated, the investigators say.