Many recovering from addiction have chronic health problems, diminished quality of life

Alcohol and other substance-use problems take enormous psychological and societal tolls on millions of Americans. Now a study from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Recovery Research Institute shows that more than a third of individuals who consider themselves in recovery from an alcohol or other substance use disorder continue to suffer from chronic physical disease. The study, published online March 20 in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, is the first to look at the national prevalence of medical conditions that are commonly caused or exacerbated by excessive and chronic alcohol and other drug use among people in addiction recovery.

“The prodigious psychological, social and interpersonal impact of excessive and chronic alcohol and other drug use is well characterized,” says lead and corresponding author David Eddie, PhD, research scientist at the Recovery Research Institute. “Less well appreciated is the physical disease burden, especially among those who have successfully resolved a significant substance use problem.”

Incorporating data from the landmark 2017 National Recovery Survey, the current study examined information from a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 U.S. adults describing themselves as in recovery from problems with the use of alcohol, cannabis, opioids, stimulants or other drugs. Of these, 37 percent had been diagnosed with one or more of nine alcohol- and drug-exacerbated diseases and health conditions: liver disease, tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), cancer, hepatitis C, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes. The presence of these diseases was shown to be associated with significant reductions in participants’ quality of life, and all are known to reduce life expectancy.

Full story at Science Daily

Drinking and drug-use dreams in recovery tied to more severe addiction history

Vivid dreams involving drinking and drug use are common among individuals in recovery. A study from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Recovery Research Institute, published in the January issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment after online release in October 2018, finds these relapse dreams are more common in those with more severe clinical histories of alcohol and other drug problems.

“Anecdotally, the occurrence of drinking and drug-using dreams is a known phenomenon among people in recovery, but very little is known from an epidemiological standpoint about the prevalence of such dreams, their relation to relapse risk, and how they decay with time in recovery,” says lead author John F. Kelly, PhD, founder and director of the Recovery Research Institute. “Given that these dreams can be deeply unnerving, more information could help treatment providers, those in recovery and their families know what to expect going forward.”

Recovery from every kind of substance use disorder — alcohol, heroin, cocaine, cannabis — has been characterized by dreams that follow a common pattern: in the dream the person has a drink or ingests their primary substance. They experience disbelief and are overcome with fear, guilt and remorse until they wake up, relieved to realize it was only a dream.

Full story at Science Daily

Incorporating 12-step program elements improves youth substance-use disorder treatment

A treatment program for adolescents with substance-use disorder that incorporates the practices and philosophy of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) produced even better results than the current state-of-the art treatment approach in a nine-month, randomized trial. The results of the study, led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) psychologist, are being published online in the journal Addiction.

“While all adolescents can improve when they receive well-articulated substance-use disorder treatment, we showed that adding a 12-step component to standard cognitive-behavioral and motivational strategies produced significantly greater reductions in substance-related consequences during and in the months following treatment,” says John Kelly, PhD, director of the Recovery Research Institute in the MGH Department of Psychiatry, who led the study. “It also produced higher rates of 12-step meeting participation, which was associated with longer periods of continuous abstinence.”

Full story at Science Daily