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Addiction Recovery Patients Often Suffer from Chronic Health Conditions

Addiction Recovery Patients Often Suffer from Chronic Health Conditions

Physical Health is Important to Lasting Recovery

There is no doubt that substance use disorder has a dramatic impact on health. Physical, mental and emotional well-being always suffer when an individual becomes dangerously dependent on harmful substances. Drugs and alcohol have a variety of adverse effects on the body, ranging from painful withdrawal symptoms to lasting impairment of vital organs. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that patients recovering from addiction often suffer from chronic health conditions.

Now, a new study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine suggests that more than one-third of people recovering from addiction continue to suffer from a physical disease.

Studying Chronic Health Conditions in Addiction Recovery

Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Recovery Research Institute are the first to examine the national prevalence of medical conditions typically created or magnified by chronic and excessive use of drugs or alcohol. The data in the study comes from a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 American adults. Each of these individuals described themselves as recovering from a range of substance issues, including:

Researchers then looked for the presence of diseases known to be exacerbated by drugs and alcohol, such as:

  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Cancer
  • Hepatitis C
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

What they found was that out of all the adults recovering from substance abuse issues, 37% of them had been diagnosed with one or more of these nine conditions.

Additionally, researchers conclude that significant reductions in the participants’ quality of life connect to these conditions. Not to mention, researchers note that each of these health problems is known to reduce life expectancy.

Trends Relating to Different Drugs

When looking at the details of the data, there are a few trends that stand out. For instance, when compared to the general population, individuals in recovery have much higher levels of:

  • Hepatitis C
  • COPD
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes

And in many cases, certain diseases more often correlate with certain substances. For example:

Hepatitis C

Rates of this condition were significantly higher for those recovering from opioids or stimulants than those recovering from alcohol.

HIV/AIDS and STIs

Lifetime prevalence of these health conditions was significantly higher in the group of people recovering from stimulant abuse than in the alcohol group.

Heart Disease

The lowest rates of this condition were actually found in individuals recovering from opioid addiction.

Diabetes

This health problem was discovered to be least common for those reporting cannabis as their primary substance issue

Multiple Chronic Conditions

The odds of experiencing two or more chronic physical diseases were increased by 4%- 7% due to certain factors, such as:

  • Each additional substance used 10 times or more
  • Older age at onset of diseases
  • Resolving alcohol or drug problems later in life

Reduced Rates of Disease

Researchers also note a few elements that appear to coincide with reduced rates of physical diseases. In general, such factors include being:

  • Younger
  • Female
  • Hispanic

There were also social stability and economic factors linked to lower rates of physical disease for those recovering from substance abuse, including:

  • Having a household income greater than $50,000
  • Higher education
  • Being Employed
  • Married or living with a partner

Some of these may be a bit of a surprise, especially considering that women are typically considered more susceptible to serious health problems associated with substance abuse.

Highlighting the Importance of Health in Recovery

According to the researchers, this study is important to a larger conversation about the quality of life for those in recovery from addiction. The lead and corresponding author David Eddie, Ph.D., research scientist at the Recovery Research Institute is an MGH clinical psychologist and an instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. He states,

“We’ve known for a long time that chronic and heavy substance use can cause a multitude of diseases directly and indirectly – The extent to which these diseases and health conditions continue to persist for the millions of Americans who achieve recovery remains to be clarified, but this study highlights the fact that these negative impacts may continue to affect quality of life even when people achieve addiction recovery.”

Eddie believes it is important to appreciate that even those who overcome their issues with substance use disorder and drug dependence still face real physical diseases. In some cases, men and women who manage to finally make progress away from abusing drugs or alcohol still have to live the rest of their lives with other life-altering conditions. If the evidence points toward a better chance at young people and those with a shorter history of drug use being able to avoid chronic illness, then, of course, more effort should be put toward early intervention. Eddie adds,

“In addition, addiction treatment needs to be more seamlessly integrated with primary health care, and more research is needed to explore the complex relationships between alcohol and other drug use and physical disease.”

Moreover, this would further support the idea that we must address addiction as a public health issue. If we want to effectively address not only substance abuse but the long-term adverse effects of drugs and alcohol, we have to offer more comprehensive treatment options.

Part of building a healthy and effective foundation for recovery is a personalized treatment plan. Every individual is unique, and each person struggling with substance use disorder faces different challenges. That is why Palm Healthcare Company believes in providing customized and comprehensive care to every client. From medical detox resources to medication management and nutrition, we believe better health and well-being make lasting recovery possible. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

What Is the Addiction Severity Index and Why Does it Matter?

What Is the Addiction Severity Index and Why Does it Matter?

Holistic methods of drug and alcohol addiction treatment are so effective because they are designed to heal all the unique aspects of an individual’s life. This style of comprehensive care delivers empowering and personalized recovery strategies to help each person find their way to a lasting transformation. Holistic addiction treatment doesn’t just save a life; it helps people to discover a new quality of life in recovery.

Part of creating a customized plan of recovery means making a complete appraisal of the individual’s needs and how best to serve them in a healthy and productive environment. Part of the initial assessment includes what some refer to as the Addiction Severity Index (ASI).

Every program may not use the term Addiction Severity Index directly. However, an intake assessment is always a critical step toward a comprehensive treatment. So what is the ASI and why does it matter?

What is the Addiction Severity Index?

The ASI is a semi-structured interview with an individual seeking care for issues with substance abuse. The interview is designed to address seven potential problem areas relevant to substance use disorder in potential patients, including:

  1. Medical status

  2. Employment and support

  3. Drug use

  4. Alcohol use

  5. Legal status

  6. Family/social status

  7. Psychiatric status

The input given by the individual is important because it helps providers determine the best way to engage in safe and effective treatment. All information gathered for the Addiction Severity Index is treated as confidential.

In each of the 7 areas, the individual will be asked to answer questions based on a 1-to-5 scale system. The individual will be asked how bothered they are by problems pertaining to each area. They will then be asked how important treatment is for them in those areas. The scale is:

1- Not at all

2- Slightly

3- Moderately

4- Considerably

5- Extremely

Of course each individual has the right to refuse to answer any question, especially if a topic is:

  • Considered too personal

  • Uncomfortable to the patient

  • Too painful/traumatic

If this is the case the individual should be instructed not to answer. While the individual should be made aware of the benefits of answering as many questions as they can in order to prepare a more comprehensive treatment plan, they should also be allowed to avoid unnecessary distress.

Ultimately, the Addiction Severity Index is typically used as a standard assessment tool for evaluating substance use disorder and determining treatment options. Having a higher score on the ASI can be an indication of a greater need for treatment in the listed areas.

ASI-Lite

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the Addiction Severity Index, Lite version, also known as ASI-Lite, is a shortened version of the ASI. In other words:

  • A typical ASI gauges problems within the previous 30 days and calculates a lifetime worth of information about problem behaviors.
  • ASI-Lite contains 22 fewer questions than the ASI, and omits items relating to severity evaluations, and a family history grid.

The abridged version of the Addiction Severity Index is not an extremely uncommon method. It simply utilizes a portion of the data to outline treatment options.

Why Does it Matter?

While not everyone may be familiar with the term Addiction Severity Index, it is easy to guess as to why its important. When dealing with such a complex and intimate issue as substance use disorder the more information you have to build a foundation the better. This offers more potential to address every part of the problem. With a holistic addiction treatment program there is typically an intake process that helps clinicians and medical staff best understand the individual’s needs.

If the individual has struggled with legal, professional and/or financial issues, their recovery plan can be more focused toward how to overcome these adversities.

If they are dealing with a medical issue while trying to repair damage done to their personal and familial relationships they can build their plan around coping with these obstacles.

A complete picture like the Addiction Severity Index can be crucial when addressing dual diagnosis patients. In order to effectively address someone who may be struggling with a mental health disorder, such as clinical depression, while also dealing with addiction both co-occurring disorders must be simultaneously treated. If someone ignores one to focus on the other it frequently instigates a relapse of the untreated issue.

The point of evaluating the Addiction Severity Index and using holistic addiction treatment is to heal all parts of the person’s life; not just the addiction.

Palm Healthcare Company is proud to have some of the most trusted holistic drug and alcohol treatment programs in South Florida. Our innovative and personalized approach helps create lasting healing and comprehensive transformation. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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