Examining the Cycle of Opioid Treatment

For those without firsthand understanding of opioid use disorder, the evolution of the situation seems to take a predictable pattern. Opioid use, either medicinal or recreational, becomes a dependency issue, which usurps a portion of the individual’s life and his or her family’s life. Then comes an intervention; next comes detoxification and rehabilitation; and then comes recovery. On the surface this looks like a linear narrative, but the statistical truth of the matter is that opioid use is a cyclical situation. Individuals often require repeated detoxification attempts, and after each of these sessions comes a time of increased chance of accidental overdose—a risk of mortality that is 24 times greater than when he or she is in treatment.

Considering the emotional and physical ordeal this cycle has on those involved, Dr. Bohdan Nosyk and a group of his colleagues sought evidence to find whether this treatment plan is worth the risk and turmoil. Nosyk and his team studied data from California drug treatment centers from 1991-2012 to determine the success rate for detox-only solutions and agnostic maintenance treatment in the form of methadone were over this time period. In his resulting article, Nosyk demonstrates through the outcomes data that when an individual enters a detoxification program, without further maintenance services, that the detoxification has decreasing odds of success for each successive attempt. The data also shows that for individuals who seek maintenance treatment, that the duration of such treatment is longer for each attempt of detoxification.

This study demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of the three-part opioid treatment protocol, one that Beacon supports and offers to those we serve. This protocol prescribes therapy in conjunction with detoxification and medicinal maintenance practices, and for all three of these parts to integrate for the individual in treatment.

Learn more about the study.