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12 Sep. 2019

Research: Improved Quality of Life After AOD Treatment Without Reduction in Use

The Journal of Clinical Medicine released new research from Victoria Manning, Monash Addiction Research Centre and eight others exploring the relationship between quality of life and AOD treatment.

This study published September 2019 shows baseline quality of life tests showed below the Australian average. In patients who completed AOD treatment (outpatient program, withdrawal program or residential rehabilitation) their quality of life improved significantly in the domains of physical, psychological, social and environmental. Interestingly in patients who left or did not complete treatment, their quality of life also improved but in the domains of social and environmental. 

Further to that point, patients who were found to have made no changes to their AOD use after treatment also showed improvement in their quality of life compared to the baseline test. 

The research found, "...subtance use (directly and/or indirectly) negatively impacts, and/or prevents improvements in quality of life... This would suggest that treatments effective at reducing substance use (i.e., psychotherapeutic interventions, peer support/mutual aid, pharmacotherapy, and residential rehabilitation) are also inherently beneficial to QOL (quality of life)."

It continued, "This emphasises the importance of increasing the availability of, and facilitating clients’ access to, these treatments, as well as finding ways to maximise rates of treatment completion. Nevertheless, the significant (albeit small) improvements in social and environmental QOL seen among treatment non-responders suggest that treatment may be beneficial even to those who achieve little or no change in their substance use. The unexpected improvements in social QOL could be attributed to the fostering of new social relationships, including connecting with others in SUD treatment or mutual aid/peer support (attended by 48.6%), and/or by strengthening social support or pre-existing relationships by virtue of the participant entering treatment to address their SUD (Substance use disorder)."

The research also explains the benefits of AOD treatment besides minimising the harm of AOD use, "Moreover, by being in treatment participants could have been referred to social and welfare services (e.g., housing, employment agencies etc.), leading to improved financial security, safety, comfort and convenience of their living environment, and improved access to resources and meaningful activities, thereby accounting for an improved environmental QOL.

The research also found the possibility that quality of life improvements facililtate or motivate substance use reductions. "This would suggest that, for clients with poor physical and/or psychological wellbeing (a substantial proportion of the treatment-seeking population) and with poor QOL more generally, finding solutions to these problems would often be necessary to achieve reductions in substance use"

You can read the entire research paper here.