News and Opinions

February 20, 2020  |  Blog

Adults in Recovery from Substance Use Disorders have Greater Burden of Physical Diseases than General Population

Researchers, including the Recovery Research Institute’s own Dr. David Eddie and Dr. John Kelly, have published a new study finding that, compared to the general U.S. population, individuals in recovery from substance use disorders experience a greater lifetime prevalence and likelihood of developing additional physical diseases.

Utilizing the National Recovery Survey, the first nationally-representative sample of American individuals who have resolved and entered into recovery from a substance use disorder, researchers identified that these individuals had a higher lifetime prevalence of diabetes, heart disease, hepatitis C, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than the general U.S. population. Individuals reporting these diagnoses also indicated significantly poorer quality of life and psychological distress.

A survey at one point in time can't prove a causal relationship between AOD problems and an increased prevalence of physical diseases. However, the results of multiple previous studies suggest a high probability that the increased prevalence of certain diseases in the National Recovery Survey participants, relative to the general population, is either directly or indirectly related to AOD problems.

Findings highlight the increased medical burden associated with AOD problems, and speak to the need for earlier and more sustained intervention for AOD problems, greater integration of addiction treatment and primary health care, and longitudinal research to explore the complex, dynamic relationships between AOD use and physical disease.

The study was published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine and summarized in Massachusetts General Hospital’s Advances in Motion.

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