May 27, 2020

Predicting Painkiller Addiction Relapse

Nearly half of patients who seek methadone treatment for opioid abuse continue to abuse the drugs during or after treatment. A new study out of Canada suggests there are certain factors that can help health care professionals better predict who might relapse during treatment for prescription opioid painkiller addiction.

Studying 250 adults from Ontario who had been on a methadone treatment for an average of four years, the researchers found that relapse was more likely when certain factors were present:

  • Injection drug users were more than twice as likely to relapse as those who didn't inject drugs. 
  • There was a 10 percent higher risk of relapse for every year later in life that a person first began abusing opioids.
  • There is a 7 percent higher risk of relapse for each day people used tranquilizers in the previous month.

“We can improve our tailoring of treatment to each patient if we know who among patients taking methadone treatment is at high risk for opioid relapse,” said principal author Dr. Zena Samaan. Samaan is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. “As well, health care providers can target more aggressive therapies to those at high risk.” 



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