The ‘revolving door of opioid detox and relapse’ has been a concern for as long as there have been treatment programs. Many studies have been performed but a recent study had shed new light on the issue.
In a first-ever randomized trial, patients at a short-term inpatient program began long-term outpatient treatment with buprenorphine before discharge, with better outcomes than detox patients.
The revolving door of opioid detox and relapse
When we talk about a revolving door, what we’re really saying is that patients who only go through Rehab or Detox are at a much, much higher of relapse within the first year. Patients who seek “aftercare” or continuing treatment such as outpatient treatment or sober living facilities have a much better chance at sobriety. The longer a patient is in active treatment, the better their chances. This makes perfect sense. Addicition doesn’t happen overnight. It takes many other influences such as environment, mental health issues, depression, physical pain, peer pressure to drive someone to addiction. This process happens over many years. In our group and one-on-one therapy sessions, we hear the stories of how people turned to substances to escape something – whether it was emotional distress, physical pain, self esteem issues or anything else – that all comes out in long term therapy. Such therapy is vital to the success of addiction treatment. This type of treatment is only offered on very limited basis in Rehab/Detox programs. All wounds will not be healed in 1-3 months (the average Rehab program length). As such, while a patient might leave Rehab “clean,” without continuing treatment, the revolving door of opioid detox and relapse will continue. Medication assisted treatment has shown promise for some time. One challenge has been that some insurance providers have been reluctant to fully fund such treatment. Independent studies have shown solid results and those treatment providers who offer such treatment hold a distinct advantage over those that don’t. In fact, most treatment programs will warn patients that unless they stick to the program, the revolving door of opioid detox and relapse becomes a very real threat to their recovery.
Choosing the right treatment program
It takes desperation, frustration and sometimes even a medical emergency before a person will admit they need help. The fear and anxiety of living in reality, with no substance-provided escape, is petrifying. But asking for help takes something else: bravery. To get to this point, it might’ve taken years or decades, so why would anyone want to go through the revolving door of opioid detox and relapse? You want to do it right and do it only once. We strongly recommend that you talk to different recovery treatment providers to see if their program is a good fit for you. Ask them if they have an MAT program (if that interests you) and meet with them, if possible.