A new study finds people who become addicted to drugs later in life are more likely to relapse during treatment, compared with those whose addictions started earlier.
For every year increase in the age of starting to abuse opioids, there is a 10 percent increase in relapse, according to Science Daily.
The study of people being treated with methadone for their opioid use disorder found those who injected drugs were more than twice as likely to relapse by using opioids while on treatment, compared with those who did not inject drugs.
Use of benzodiazepines also increased the risk of relapse, the study found. For every day of benzodiazepine use in the previous month, the researchers found a 7 percent increase in relapse.
The older the patient is when in treatment, the less likely they are to relapse, the researchers report in Substance Abuse Research and Treatment. The study included 250 adults who had been on methadone treatment for an average of four years.
“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 study author Dr. Zena Samaan of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. “As well, health care providers can target more aggressive therapies to those at high risk.”
“Since opioid disorder is chronic, remitting and relapsing, we wanted to find those factors that led to longer abstinence from illicit opioids,” said study co-author Leen Naji. “There has been little research on this issue of how long a patient can go without the illicit opioid use.”