Research has enhanced our understanding of opioid misuse prevalence and consequences, but few studies have examined recovery from opioid problems. Estimating national recovery prevalence and characterizing individuals who have resolved opioid problems can inform policy and clinical approaches to address opioid misuse.
We conducted a cross-sectional investigation of a nationally-representative sample of US adults who reported opioidproblem resolution (OPI). For reference, OPI was compared with an alcohol problem resolution group (ALC). Analyses estimated OPI/ALC prevalence, differences in treatment/recovery service use, and psychological well-being, within 2 recovery windows: <1 year (early recovery) and 1 to 5 years (mid-recovery) since OPI/ALC problem resolution.
Of those who reported alcohol or drug use problem resolution, weighted problem resolution prevalence was 5.3% for opioids (early recovery 1.2%, mid-recovery 2.2%) and 51.2% for alcohol (early recovery 7.0%, mid-recovery 11.5%). In mid-recovery, lifetime use of formal treatment, pharmacotherapy, recovery support services, mutual help, and current pharmacotherapy were more prevalent in OPI than ALC. Service utilization did not differ between early-recovery OPI and ALC. Common services used by OPI included inpatient treatment (37.8%) and state/local recovery organizations (24.4%) in mid-recovery; outpatient treatment (25.7%) and recovery community centers (27.2%) in early recovery; Narcotics Anonymous (40.2%-57.8%) and buprenorphine-naloxone (15.3%-26.7%) in both recovery cohorts. Regarding well-being, OPI reported higher self-esteem than ALC in early recovery, and lower self-esteem than ALC in mid-recovery.
An estimated 1.2 million American adults report resolving an opioid problem. Given the service use outcomes and longer-term problem resolution of mid-recovery OPI, early-recovery OPI may require encouragement to utilize additional or more intensive services to achieve longer-term recovery. OPI beyond recovery-year 1 may need enhanced support to address deficient self-esteem and promote well-being.
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 attitudeswere 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 opioidantagonist 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.
Much research over the past 25 years has focused on elucidating the mechanisms by which Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) affects behavioral change in its participants. In addition to research on the spiritual mechanisms for which AA is best known in the popular conception, research on mechanisms of recovery (MOR) has predominantly supported social, cognitive, and affective mechanisms that are also present in many professional psychotherapies.
This paper compares and contrasts the theorized MOR of AA with those found in several common professional psychotherapies to illustrate analogous elements.
Literature review, summary, and synthesis of studies examining the MOR of both AA and common psychotherapies including analytic/dynamic therapies, cognitive-behavioral therapies, and acceptance and mindfulness-based therapies.
There exists a significant overlap in theorized MOR of AA and mainstream, professional psychotherapies. Mechanisms with the greatest overlap include those mobilizing stress and coping theory, behavioral choice theory, and social learning theory, while mechanisms more unique to AA compared to professional psychotherapies mobilize social control theory to a greater degree.
In caring for patients with addiction, practicing clinicians will find it useful to be aware of overlapping analogous elements found in the AA program and professional psychotherapies and how they can complement one another.