A month-long residential treatment program may be more effective than standard outpatient programs for young adults who are dependent on opioids, a new study suggests.
Residential programs may result in higher abstinence levels for young adults dependent on prescription painkillers or heroin, Reuters reports.
"Given evidence that outpatient treatment for opioid dependence in young adults is not as effective as it is in older adults, we need alternatives to protect this vulnerable population," said lead author Dr. Zev Schuman-Olivier of Massachusetts General Hospital.
The researchers followed 292 adults ages 18 to 24 who were enrolled in a month-long residential rehab program based on a 12-step approach. One-fourth met the criteria for opiate dependence and 20 percent for opiate misuse. The remaining 55 percent were being treated for abusing other substances, such as alcohol and non-opiate drugs, the article notes.
The study found 29 percent of participants who were dependent on opioids and 22 percent of those who misused opioids were abstinent a year later. Another recent study found 83 percent of people who entered an outpatient treatment program had dropped out one year later.
The findings are published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
This study is important because it stresses the need for parents to advocate for residential treatment when that moment arises for an emerging adult when they think about going into treatment," Schuman-Olivier said. He said there is a "window of willingness" after an event such as a minor overdose. "If someone can be encouraged to go into residential treatment at that time, then there is a likelihood that it will have a longer lasting effect than if they go to outpatient treatment," he said.
Schuman-Olivier noted some people cannot access residential programs because of the cost. They are usually only covered by private insurance, and only after other levels of outpatient care have failed, he noted.