The concept of "recovery" from alcohol use disorders (AUD) has garnered increasing scientific interest in recent years including attempts to explicate and measure its presumed component parts. In general, there is consensus that "recovery" should not be solely about abstinence or quantity-frequency measures of alcohol consumption and should include measures of functioning. Some researchers have taken an even more radical step, however, to suggest that psychosocial functioning should be the sine qua non defining feature of "recovery," seemingly irrespective of how much one drinks; as such, people can be classified as achieving and maintaining successful "recovery" despite engaging in regular very heavy drinking. This commentary argues against this notion, as it goes beyond existing data and largely ignores the more insidious toxicity-related, as well as acute intoxication-related, health risks, known to occur with heavy alcohol exposure that contradict the salubrious intent of the "recovery" construct. Furthermore, classifying someone as being in successful "recovery" due to high functioning but while engaging in very heavy drinking, ignores the potential collateral damage to close significant others (eg, children, partners), whose well-being can be severely impacted by the enduring unpredictability of heavy use. Finally, it is argued that exclusive championing of "functioning," while paying little if any attention to AUD remission or alcohol exposure status, creates a conceptual conundrum whereby someone with low functioning but who is in long-term AUD remission or completely abstinent could be classified as not achieving "recovery," holding such individuals to a higher standard and may be stigmatizing.
While clinical interventions used to support the recovery process of U.S. adults are well understood, community-based solutions such as peer-based recovery support services delivered by a recovery community organization are not.
Previously collected administrative data of 3459 participants at 20 recovery community organizations in the U.S. were analyzed using a paired samples t-test to examine intake and current recovery capital differences, and multiple linear regression models to examine the association between peer-based recovery support engagement on changes in recovery capital.
Participants were mostly male (52.1%), non-Hispanic (80.2%), White (75.5%), with an average age of 39.38 years (SD = 12.57). Participants’ average engagement was 130.68 days (SD = 166.6) with a total of 4290 engagement sessions (M = 4.75, SD = 4.74) and 8913 brief check-ins (M = 5.0, SD = 5.03) facilitated. Reported health events were 0.09 recurrences of substance use (SD = 0.61) and 0.02 emergency room visits (SD = 0.26) on average. Paired sample t-test results showed a statistically significant increase in recovery capital of 1.33 points (95% CI: 0.97–1.69). Multiple linear regression models for predicting improvements in recovery capital (adjusted r2 = 0.61) found number of follow-up engagements and completed recovery plan goals were statistically significant predictors.
Peer-based recovery support services delivered by recovery community organizations assist in significantly improving individual recovery capital, as well as helping to facilitate involvement with an array of recovery support services that may contribute to other functional social determinant domain improvements and lower negative health events.
For people with current and remitted substance use disorder (SUD), the COVID-19 pandemic increases risk for symptom exacerbation and relapse through added stressors and reduced service access. In response, mutual-help groups and recovery community organizations have increased access to online recovery support meetings. However, rigorous studies examining online recovery support meeting participation to inform best practices have not yet been conducted. In the absence of such studies, a review of relevant literature, considered in context of potential barriers and drawbacks, suggests the risk-to-benefit ratio is favorable. Particularly given limited in-person SUD service access resulting from COVID-19 precautions, online recovery support meetings may help mitigate a key public health problem during an ongoing, public health pandemic.
Background: Technology-based computational strategies that leverage social network site (SNS) data to detect substance use are promising screening tools but rely on the presence of sufficient data to detect risk if it is present. A better understanding of the association between substance use and SNS participation may inform the utility of these technology-based screening tools.
Objective: This paper aims to examine associations between substance use and Instagram posts and to test whether such associations differ as a function of age, gender, and race/ethnicity.
Methods: Participants with an Instagram account were recruited primarily via Clickworker (N=3117). With participant permission and Instagram’s approval, participants’ Instagram photo posts were downloaded with an application program interface. Participants’ past-year substance use was measured with an adapted version of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Quick Screen. At-risk drinking was defined as at least one past-year instance having “had more than a few alcoholic drinks a day,” drug use was defined as any use of nonprescription drugs, and prescription drug use was defined as any nonmedical use of prescription medications. We used logistic regression to examine the associations between substance use and any Instagram posts and negative binomial regression to examine the associations between substance use and number of Instagram posts. We examined whether age (18-25, 26-38, 39+ years), gender, and race/ethnicity moderated associations in both logistic and negative binomial models. All differences noted were significant at the .05 level.
Results: Compared with no at-risk drinking, any at-risk drinking was associated with both a higher likelihood of any Instagram posts and a higher number of posts, except among Hispanic/Latino individuals, in whom at-risk drinking was associated with a similar number of posts. Compared with no drug use, any drug use was associated with a higher likelihood of any posts but was associated with a similar number of posts. Compared with no prescription drug use, any prescription drug use was associated with a similar likelihood of any posts and was associated with a lower number of posts only among those aged 39 years and older. Of note, main effects showed that being female compared with being male and being Hispanic/Latino compared with being White were significantly associated with both a greater likelihood of any posts and a greater number of posts.
Conclusions: Researchers developing computational substance use risk detection models using Instagram or other SNS data may wish to consider our findings showing that at-risk drinking and drug use were positively associated with Instagram participation, while prescription drug use was negatively associated with Instagram participation for middle- and older-aged adults. As more is learned about SNS behaviors among those who use substances, researchers may be better positioned to successfully design and interpret innovative risk detection approaches.
Substance use, misuse, and disorders (SUDs) are estimated to cost the United States over $500 billion annually. While there are effective SUD behavioral interventions and treatments, there is mounting evidence that technology‐based, digital recovery support services (D‐RSS) have the potential to prevent SUD, complement formal treatment, and improve individual recovery‐related outcomes. This preregistered systematic review focuses on D‐RSS that provide SUD recovery support through websites, smartphone applications, recovery social network sites, or any combination thereof. Data sources included studies found in searching CINAHL Plus (EBSCO), EMBASE, MEDLINE (EBSCO), Index Medicus/MEDLINE (NLM), Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection (EBSCO), PsycINFO (ProQuest), ProQuest Psychology Journals (ProQuest), and retrieved references. Observational, mixed‐methods, qualitative, or experimental studies, published in English, between January 1985 and January 2019, that characterized users and recovery‐related outcomes of any D‐RSS were included. The initial search yielded 5,278 abstracts. After removing duplicates, as well as reviewing titles and abstracts and removing studies not indicating an examination of recovery (i.e., treatment or prevention focused) and digital supports, 78 abstracts remained. Final included studies (n = 22) characterized international users of multiple D‐RSS types, including websites, digital recovery forums, recovery social networking sites, smartphone applications, and short messaging service texting programs. Experimental evidence was lacking as most studies were observational or qualitative in nature (n = 18). The review suggests that the evidence base for most D‐RSS is still lacking in terms of demonstrating benefit for recovery‐related outcomes. Descriptively, D‐RSS have high usage rates among engaged participants, across a range of SUD and recovery typologies and phenotypes, with 11% of U.S. adults who have resolved a SUD reporting lifetime engaging with at least one D‐RSS. D‐RSS deployment can help ameliorate barriers related to accessibility and availability of more traditional recovery supports, and may well be a valuable tool in addressing SUD and supporting recovery as uptake increases across the United States.
The attitudes of individuals who receive, provide, or influence opioid use disorder (OUD) medication services, also called stakeholders, may enhance or hinder their dissemination and adoption. Individuals who have resolved a significant alcohol or other drug (AOD) problem are a group of key stakeholders whose OUD medication attitudes are not well understood empirically. This group subsumes, but is not limited to, individuals who identify as being "in recovery." Analyses leveraged the National Recovery Study, a geo-demographically representative survey of U.S. adults who resolved a significant AOD problem (N = 1,946). We examined the prevalence of positive, neutral, and negative attitudes toward agonists, such as buprenorphine/naloxone and methadone, and antagonists, such as oral and extended-release depot injection naltrexone. Single-predictor logistic regression models tested for demographic, clinical, and recovery-related correlates of these attitudes and, for those significant at the .1 level, multivariable-predictor logistic regression models tested unique associations between these correlates and attitudes. Results showed that participants were equally likely to hold positive (21.4 [18.9-24.0]%) and negative agonist (23.8 [21.2-26.7]%) attitudes but significantly more likely to hold negative (30.3 [27.4-33.3]%) than positive antagonist attitudes (18.0 [15.9-20.4]%). Neutral attitudes were most commonly endorsed for both agonists (54.8 [51.6-57.9]%) and antagonists (51.7 [48.5-54.8]%). For agonists, more recent AOD problem resolution was a unique predictor of positive attitude, whereas Black and Hispanic races/ethnicities, compared with White, were unique predictors of negative attitude. For antagonists, older age group (45-59 and 60 + vs. 18-29 years), lifetime opioid antagonist medication prescription, and past 90-day non-12-step mutual-help attendance were unique predictors of positive attitude, whereas greater spirituality was a unique predictor of negative attitude. This population-level study of U.S. adults who resolved an AOD problem showed that agonist attitudes may be more positive than anecdotal evidence suggests. Certain characteristics and experiences, however, highlight a greater likelihood of negative attitudes, suggesting these factors may be potential barriers to OUD medication adoption.
Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use disorders exact a prodigious annual economic toll in the United States (U.S.), driven largely by lost productivity due to illness-related absenteeism, underemployment, and unemployment. While recovery from AOD disorders is associated with improved health and functioning, little is known specifically about increases in productivity due to new or resumed employment and who may continue to struggle. Also, because employment can buffer relapse risk by providing structure, meaning, purpose, and income, greater knowledge in this regard would inform relapse prevention efforts as well as employment-related policy. We conducted a cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of the U.S. adult population assessing persons who reported having resolved an AOD problem (n = 2002). Weighted employment, unemployment, retirement, and disability statistics were compared to the general U.S. population. Logistic and linear regression models tested for differences in employment and unemployment among demographic categories and measures of well-being. Compared to the general U.S. population, individuals who had resolved an AOD problem were less likely to be employed or retired, and more likely to be unemployed and disabled. Certain recovering subgroups, including those identifying as black and those with histories of multiple arrests, were further disadvantaged. Conversely, certain factors, such as a higher level of education and less prior criminal justice involvement were associated with lower unemployment risk. Despite being in recovery from an AOD problem, individuals continue to struggle with obtaining employment, particularly black Americans and those with prior criminal histories. Given the importance of employment in addiction recovery and relapse prevention, more research is needed to identify employment barriers so that they can be effectively addressed.
Parents of youth with substance use disorders (SUDs) often play a vital role in successful treatment, yet little is known about interventions designed to help them cope with the stress of this role, especially as delivered in real-world settings. Evaluations of such interventions could potentially inform adaptations to enhance their clinical utility. Parents of youth with SUDs attending a clinician-led group based on the CRAFT model completed measures at intake, 4- and 8-weeks. Parents (n=545) attended an average of 3.7 sessions; 12% completed all 8 weeks. Analysis of demographic predictors of retention indicated that older parents attended more sessions on average. Overall stress did not change across time points (p>0.05). However, parents reported improvement in parent empowerment as measured by the Parent Empowerment Scale, a novel measure of parent empowerment in coping with their child's SUD (p<0.001). Clinician led evidence-informed group services may improve parents' perceived ability to help their child with their SUD. Low retention rates highlight the need to better understand the factors contributing to retention, and the potential value of adaptations to shorten the intervention. Programs serving youth with SUDs may wish to consider integrating such group services to support parents.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and related social distancing public health recommendations will have indirect consequences for individuals with current and remitted substance use disorder (SUD). Not only will stressors increase risk for symptom exacerbation and/or relapse, but individuals will also have limited service access during this critical time. Individuals with SUD are using free, online digital recovery support services (D-RSS) that leverage peer-to-peer connection (i.e., social-online D-RSS) which simultaneously help these individuals to access support and adhere to public health guidelines. Barriers to SUD treatment and recovery support service access, however, are not unique to the COVID-19 epoch. The pandemic creates an opportunity to highlight problems that will persist beyond its immediate effects, and to offer potential solutions that might help address these long-standing, systemic issues. To help providers and other key stakeholders effectively support those interested in, or who might benefit from, participation in free, social-online D-RSS, this review outlines the following: 1) theories of expected therapeutic benefits from, and potential drawbacks of social-online D-RSS participation; 2) a typology that can be used to describe and classify D-RSS; 3) a D-RSS "case study" to illustrate how to apply the theory and typology; 4) what is known empirically about social-online D-RSS; and 5) whether and how to engage individuals with these online resources.
Method: Narrative review combining research and theory on both in-person recovery supports and social-online D-RSS.
Results: Studies examining in-person recovery support services, such as AA and other mutual-help organizations, combined with theory about how social-online D-RSS might confer benefit, suggest these digital supports may engage individuals with SUD and mobilize salutary change in similar ways. While people may use in-person and digital supports simultaneously, when comparing the two modalities, communication science and telemedicine group therapy data suggest that D-RSS may not provide the same magnitude of benefit as in-person services. D-RSS can be classified based on the a) type of service, b) type of platform, c) points of access, and d) organizations responsible for their delivery. Research has not yet rigorously tested the effectiveness of social-online D-RSS specifically, though existing data suggest that those who use these services generally find their participation to be helpful. Content analyses suggest that these services are likely to facilitate social support and unlikely to expose individuals to harmful situations.
Conclusions: When in-person treatment and recovery support services are limited, as is the case during the COVID-19 pandemic, expected therapeutic benefits and emerging data, taken together, suggest providers, mentors, and other community leaders may wish to refer individuals with current and remitted SUD to free, social-online D-RSS. Given the array of available services in the absence of best practice guidelines, we recommend that when making D-RSS referrals, stakeholders familiarize themselves with theorized benefits and drawbacks of participation, use a typology to describe and classify services, and integrate current empirical knowledge, while relying on trusted federal, academic, and national practice organization resource lists.
Background: Nicotine addiction through cigarette use is highly prevalent among individuals suffering from alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems and remains a prominent risk factor for morbidity, mortality, and healthcare utilization. Whereas most people agree that providing smoking cessation services (SCS) to this vulnerable population is vitally important, the timing of such service provision has been hotly debated, including whether such services should be excluded, available (but not offered), offered, or fully integrated into AOD treatment settings. Important stakeholders in this debate are those in recovery from AOD problems who, in addition to having often been AOD treatment patients themselves, frequently hold influential clinical, research or policy positions and thus can influence the likelihood of SCS provision. This study sought to understand the attitudes of this important stakeholder group in providing SCS in AOD treatment settings.
Method: We assessed a national cross-sectional sample of individuals in recovery from an AOD problem (n = 1973) on whether SCS should be: a. excluded; b. available; c. offered; or d. integrated into AOD services. We estimated associations between participants' demographic, clinical, and recovery support service use history, and SCS attitude variables, using multinomial logistic regression.
Results: Roughly equal proportions endorsed each attitudinal position (23.5% excluded, 25% available, 24.6% offered; 26.9% integrated). Correlates of holding more positive SCS implementation attitudes were Black race; primary substance other than alcohol, greater intensity of former or recent smoking, and less mutual-help organization participation; older individuals achieving recovery between 30 and 40 years ago also had more positive attitudes toward integrating SCS.
Conclusions: About half of those sampled were either against SCS inclusion in AOD settings or were in favor of making it "available" only, but not in offering it or integrating it. This oppositional pattern was accentuated particularly among those with primary alcohol problem histories and those participating in mutual-help organizations. Given the universally well-known negative health effects of smoking, understanding more about the exact reasons why certain groups of recovering persons may endorse such positions is an area worthy of further investigation, as it may uncover potential barriers to SCS implementation in AOD treatment settings.
Research suggests that digital recovery support services (D-RSSs) may help support individual recovery and augment the availability of in-person supports. Previous studies highlight the use of D-RSSs in supporting individuals in recovery from substance use but have yet to examine the use of D-RSSs in supporting a combination of behavioral health disorders, including substance use, mental health, and trauma. Similarly, few studies on D-RSSs have evaluated gender-specific supports or integrated communities, which may be helpful to women and individuals recovering from behavioral health disorders.
The goal of this study was to evaluate the SHE RECOVERS (SR) recovery community, with the following 3 aims: (1) to characterize the women who engage in SR (including demographics and recovery-related characteristics), (2) describe the ways and frequency in which participants engage with SR, and (3) examine the perception of benefit derived from engagement with SR.
This study used a cross-sectional survey to examine the characteristics of SR participants. Analysis of variance and chi-square tests, as well as univariate logistic regressions, were used to explore each aim.
Participants (N=729, mean age 46.83 years; 685/729, 94% Caucasian) reported being in recovery from a variety of conditions, although the most frequent nonexclusive disorder was substance use (86.40%, n=630). Participants had an average length in recovery (LIR) of 6.14 years (SD 7.87), with most having between 1 and 5 years (n=300). The most frequently reported recovery pathway was abstinence-based 12-step mutual aid (38.40%). Participants reported positive perceptions of benefit from SR participation, which did not vary by LIR or recovery pathway. Participants also had high rates of agreement, with SR having a positive impact on their lives, although this too did vary by recovery length and recovery pathway. Participants with 1 to 5 years of recovery used SR to connect with other women in recovery at higher rates, whereas those with less than 1 year used SR to ask for resources at higher rates, and those with 5 or more years used SR to provide support at higher rates. Lifetime engagement with specific supports of SR was also associated with LIR and recovery pathway.
Gender-specific and integrated D-RSSs are feasible and beneficial from the perspective of participants. D-RSSs also appear to provide support to a range of recovery typologies and pathways in an effective manner and may be a vital tool for expanding recovery supports for those lacking in access and availability because of geography, social determinants, or other barriers.
Tobacco and alcohol and other drug (AOD) use remain prominent risk factors for morbidity, mortality, and health care utilization. Moreover, these often cluster together within persons, exponentiating health risks. Little is known regarding if and when people resolving AOD problems stop smoking, who stops, and whether recent general population trends toward smoking cessation are evident also among persons more recently entering recovery.
DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS:
National cross-sectional sample resolving AOD problems (final sample n = 2002).
Weighted smoking/cessation prevalence; logistic regressions; Hazard-models estimated time to smoking cessation overall, and for different cohorts entering recovery during one of three decades: a) 2006-2015; b) 1996-2005; c) 1986-1995.
Approximately 30% of U.S. adults in AOD recovery with a smoking history stopped smoking before entering recovery, 7% quit smoking and AOD use concurrently, 26% stopped after entering recovery; 37% still smoked. Among those quitting after entering recovery, the prevalence of smoking cessation 5- and 10-years later was 27.2% and 55.1% respectively for the 2006-2015 cohort and 14.9% and 34.5% in the 1986-1995 cohort; time to smoking cessation also was 60% shorter (5yrs vs. 8yrs). Time to smoking cessation was associated with education and income, but not 12-step participation or AOD treatment.
Smoking rates among those in AOD recovery are more than double that of the general population but those entering recovery in recent years are stopping and stopping sooner. It is plausible that public health-oriented tobacco policy measures and easier access to smoking cessation aids may be contributing to this salutary trend.
Smoking cessation interventions for nondaily smokers are needed. The current study explores the fit of the text-messaging intervention SmokefreeTXT for nondaily smokers.
Adult nondaily smokers (N = 32; mean age = 35 ± 12, 64% female, 53% non-Hispanic White) were enrolled in SmokefreeTXT. SmokefreeTXT usage data were recorded passively, theorized mechanisms of change were assessed at baseline and 2, 6, and 12 weeks after the chosen quit day, and EMA protocols captured real-time cigarette reports at baseline, and during the first two weeks after the quit day.
Most participants completed the SmokefreeTXT program and responded to system-initiated inquiries, but just-in-time interaction with the program was limited. In retrospective recall at treatment end, content of the text-messages was rated as "neutral" to "helpful." Within-person change was observed in theorized mechanisms, with less craving (p < 0.01), increased abstinence self-efficacy (external: p < 0.01; internal: p < 0.01), and poorer perceptions of pros of smoking (psychoactive benefits: p < 0.01, pleasure p < 0.01; and pros: p < 0.01) reported after SmokefreeTXT initiation compared to baseline. Exploratory analyses of real-time reports of smoking (225 cigarette reports in N = 17 who relapsed) indicated that cigarettes smoked in the first two weeks after quitting were more likely to occur to reduce craving (OR = 2.21[1.21-3.72]), and less likely to occur to socialize (OR = 0.06[0.01-0.24]), between 19:00 and 23:00 (OR = 0.34[0.17-0.66]), and on Saturdays (OR = 0.59[0.35-0.99]) than prior to quitting.
While well accepted by nondaily smokers, SmokefreeTXT could potentially be improved by targeting cons of smoking, enhancing engagement with the just-in-time component of SmokefreeTXT, and tweaking the timing of text-messages.
Due to shame and fear of discrimination, individuals in, or seeking, recovery from alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems often struggle with whether, when, and to whom to disclose information regarding their AOD histories and recovery status. This can serve as a barrier to obtaining needed recovery support. Consequently, disclosure may have important implications for recovery trajectories, yet is poorly understood.
DESIGN AND SAMPLE:
Cross-sectional, U.S. nationally-representative survey conducted in 2016 among individuals with resolved AOD problems (N = 1987) investigated disclosure comfort and whether disclosure comfort differed by time since problem resolution, disclosure recipient (i.e., with interpersonal intimacy), or primary substance (i.e., alcohol [51%], cannabis [11%], opioids [5%], or "other" [33%]). Predictors of disclosure comfort were also examined. Data were analyzed using LOWESS analyses, analyses of variance, and regression.
Overall, longer time since problem resolution was associated with greater disclosure comfort. In general, participants reported greater comfort with disclosure to family and friends, and less comfort with disclosure to co-workers, to first-time acquaintances, in public settings, and in the media, but these effects varied by primary drug with participants who had problems with alcohol and "other" drugs having significantly more disclosure comfort than those who had problems with opioids.
Dimensions of time since AOD problem resolution, interpersonal intimacy, and primary drug are significantly associated with disclosure comfort. Individuals seeking recovery may benefit from more formal coaching around disclosure, particularly those with primary opioid problems, but further research is needed to determine the desire for and effects of such coaching among those seeking recovery.
Background: Alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems are commonly depicted as chronically relapsing, implying multiple recovery attempts are needed prior to remission. Yet, although a robust literature exists on quit attempts in the tobacco field, little is known regarding patterns of cessation attempts related to alcohol, opioid, stimulant, or cannabis problems. Greater knowledge of such estimates and the factors associated with needing fewer or greater attempts may have utility for health policy and clinical communication efforts and approaches.
Methods: Cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of U.S. adults (N = 39,809) who reported resolving a significant AOD problem (n = 2,002) and assessed on number of prior serious recovery attempts, demographic variables, primary substance, clinical histories, and indices of psychological distress and well-being.
Results: The statistical distribution of serious recovery attempts was highly skewed with a mean of 5.35 (SD = 13.41) and median of 2 (interquartile range [IQR] = 1 to 4). Black race, prior use of treatment and mutual-help groups, and history of psychiatric comorbidity were associated with higher number of attempts, and more attempts were associated independently with greater current distress. Number of recovery attempts did not differ by primary substance (e.g., opioids vs. alcohol).
Conclusions: Estimates of recovery attempts differed substantially depending on whether the mean (5.35 recovery attempts) or median (2 recovery attempts) was used as the estimator. Implications of this are that the average may be substantially lower than anticipated because cultural expectations are often based on AOD problems being "chronically relapsing" disorders implicating seemingly endless tries. Depending on which one of these estimates is reported in policy documents or communicated in public health announcements or clinical settings, each may elicit varying degrees of help-seeking, hope, motivation, and the use of more assertive clinical approaches. The more fitting, median estimate of attempts should be used in clinical and policy communications given the distribution.