How bad are the long-term effects of opioid addiction?

Many regions of the U.S. & other countries are in the midst of an opioid epidemic with sharply increasing rates of use, need for treatment, & related mortality

While clinical studies have been conducted with regard to short term outcomes across several months, few studies have been completed looking at the course of opioid use disorders across years and decades. Given that we know that opioid addiction tends to have a chronic course lasting many years, studies that highlight long-term treatment outcomes and rates of recovery are needed to inform how providers, systems, and policymakers might address this major public health problem more effectively to enhance remission and recovery rates.

Individuals over a three-year span

They reviewed outcomes across several domains including:

The current review emphasized the chronic nature of opioid use disorders. In addition, results from several of the reviewed studies suggest a public health—rather than criminal justice-based—approach to opioid use may ultimately enhance outcomes.

A substantial majority of studies have necessarily focused on developing, evaluating, and disseminating approaches to help individuals stabilize opioid use disorders in the short-term (e.g., up to 1 year after the index help-seeking episode, via medication-assisted and/or psychosocial treatment). The current study is important in that it provides a macro, longitudinal context to inform treatment and policy decisions.


For treatment professionals and treatment systems: Strongly consider including continuing care approaches in your treatment program, or partner with providers and/or systems that can help provide ongoing recovery management. Ongoing engagement with formal and informal recovery specific supports is recommended for a minimum of five years.

We’d like to get these stats down with staying up to date on all current recovery methods in conjunction with the principals of the 12 step program!