The antecedents and benefits of achieving abstinence in opioid addicts: a 2.5-year follow-up study

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1987;13(3):213-29. doi: 10.3109/00952998709001511.


This report examines long-term and short-term benefits of achieving abstinence from opioids in a sample of opioid addicts who were reevaluated 2.5 years following seeking treatment. Extensive assessment of drug use history and drug-associated problems had been obtained when the subjects applied for treatment. At follow-up evaluations, detailed information was obtained on intervening course of drug use, treatment, legal problems, psychological problems, social functioning, occupational functioning, and medical status. The results were as follows: (1) Achieving abstinence from illicit opioids was associated with concurrent improvement in other aspects of functioning including reduction of criminal activity, improved medical status, improved social functioning, and reduced abuse of other psychoactive substances. However, many of these improvements were reversed immediately if relapse to opioid use occurred. (2) Achieving abstinence was associated with being in drug treatment, especially treatment in a methadone maintenance program. (3) Achievement of abstinence was not successfully predicted by client characteristics measured at entrance into treatment. (4) Long-range benefits of abstinence were detectable in social functioning even for those who had relapsed at the time of follow-up reevaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone / therapeutic use
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Psychiatric Department, Hospital
  • Recurrence
  • Social Adjustment


  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone