According to a study recently published in the psychiatric journal Substance Abuse Research and Treatment, addicts who start abusing opioids later in life tend to relapse the most during treatment.

Prescription painkiller abuse is an epidemic in the US as well as in Canada, where one in six people use them. Not until after their widespread introduction into the medical world did the government realize just how dangerous they can be for casual citizens, many of whom assume that legal, prescription drugs equal safe drugs. 

Those who inject opioids are twice as likely to relapse than those who smoked, snorted, or ate them. Each year after someone starts using, their relapse likelihood increases by at least 10 percent.

Although many people manage to maintain their recommended dosages, despite the urge to overindulge – a necessary evil when it comes to opiates– hundreds of thousands more succumb and misuse their pills. Relapse is a tough phenomenon to understand or combat, because nobody, except for the addicts themselves, can know for certain whether they relapsed by choice – have simply given up – or truly by accident. Slips happen, but the dividing line between slips and willful relapse is seldom a clear one. Just ask any recovering addict. When you’re addicted to drugs, you’re caught in a psychological whirlwind, a clash between two internal voices: You desperately want to use, but you also don’t want to use. Following a relapse, it can be difficult, even for the addict, to determine whether the former voice succeeded or the latter voice failed.

Improving our tailoring of treatment to each recovering addict will require an understanding of this paradigm. Once we learn its mechanics, our healthcare providers can better aim their most aggressive therapies, for which resources are often scarce (i.e., methadone or other opioid agonists), to those at high risk. For many addictions, a simple, standard combination of psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and aftercare may suffice. More serious addictions require more intense — often unusual, experimental, or individualized — treatment techniques and regimens.

No matter how long you’ve been abusing opiates – no matter how grim your odds look on paper – you’re not trapped. In fact, you can counteract the odds by taking the crucial step which hardly any addicts take: getting treatment. It may feel like opiate abuse has simply become your way of life, but you’d be surprised at how fast the body and brain bounce back after detoxing, so long as you’re willing to put in some serious effort to better yourself from within. Get clean today: 800.910.9299.