Is it time to shift to a chronic care approach similar to disease management models?
To explore this question, a recent study analyzed data demonstrating the chronic nature of addiction.
- Over 50% of people who resolve drug problems following treatment receive multiple episodes of care, usually over several years.
- Data from 2003 from programs receiving public funds revealed that 64% of people were readmissions to treatment and 19% had more than four admissions.
- In a study of 448 persons following treatment, 82% transitioned at least once between relapse, treatment re-entry, incarceration, and periods of abstinence over a 2-year period.
- Alarming results of a study from 23 states revealed that only 17% of persons discharged from intensive treatment were transitioned to outpatient continuing care.
Several emerging practices for a chronic care model and their results were also reviewed, revealing the following:
- telephonic follow-up resulted in fewer positive cocaine urine tests;
- assertive continuing care for adolescents demonstrated greater access to and participation in continuing care as well as greater abstinence;
- recovery management check-ups at 90-day intervals combined with motivational interventions for those who had relapsed provided a faster return to, and greater participation in, treatment as well as a lesser need for treatment at 2-year follow-up.
The authors discuss the need for substantial system changes required across all elements of the addiction treatment system if a chronic care model is to be implemented.
Comments by Michael Boyle, PhD:
Providers do what they are paid to deliver. If we want to change to a potentially more effective model of addiction treatment, the funding bodies must implement new billing codes and rates for continuing recovery management. Providers need to strive to remove any sense of failure, shame, or guilt persons may have regarding their return to use and need for additional assistance.
Dennis M, Scott CK. Managing addiction as a chronic condition. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2007;4(1):45-55.
From; Join Together Online