Impact of Life Transitions on Long-Term Alcohol and Drug Rehab Success
Those who have an addiction to alcohol or another substance often suffer a relapse soon after completing treatment in drug rehab. The skills learned in treatment through therapy often provide many tools for handling the temptation to return to using a substance, but patients still struggle to avoid using the substance again.
A recent study sought to determine what other factors might be associated with helping a person finishing alcohol or drug rehab avoid relapse. The researchers hoped to identify life events that promote a successful outcome and also examine the way that age can affect success with avoiding drug and alcohol abuse.
The study was conducted by Derek D. Satre, Constance M. Weisner, Jennifer R. Mertens, and Felicia W. Chi. The objective was to look at the effects of life transitions, age, treatment in drug rehab and the role of social support for those who had completed treatment five to nine years earlier.
The researchers recruited patients from a sizeable treatment program from an integrated health plan. Of the 1,951 patients initially interviewed at the beginning of treatment, 1,646 (84 percent) completed at least one telephone follow-up. The follow-up surveys were conducted at 5, 7 as well as 9 years following the completion of alcohol or drug rehab.
The researchers asked the respondents questions about alcohol and drug use according to the Addiction Severity Index. They also asked the participants to describe the treatment they had experienced, in addition to answering questions about changes in their marital status, health and employment that had occurred in the years since their previous follow-up.
The researchers then compared the answers from the participants by each age group. The age groups were 18 to 39 years, 40 to 54 years, and over 55 years at intake. The team analyzed factors such as time varying and invariant factors associated with the outcomes at each follow-up, using mixed-effects logistic random intercept models.
The results showed that there was a significant variation in changes in health, marital, and employment status according to age. There were factors linked to successful remission in years 5 to 9, including being in the middle-aged group versus the younger group, being female, and not losing a partner in divorce, separation or death.
In addition, there were successful outcomes when the individual did not experience a decline in their health and had at least one close friend who was supportive of their recovery. There were additional predictors that varied by drug versus alcohol abstinence.
The study’s findings revealed that damaging life transitions varied by age. They were also linked to worse outcomes when it came to maintaining abstinence from alcohol or other drugs. Older age and the presence of support were both associated with long-term sachievement in avoiding the use of alcohol and drugs.
The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.