Levels of mental distress after addiction treatment linked to admission pathways

addiction treatment mental distress

People who voluntarily seek addiction treatment are less likely to exhibit signs of mental distress six months after their course of treatment when compared to those who compulsorily receive addiction treatment, a new study found.

Researchers from Norway followed 202 patients with substance use disorders, of which 137 voluntarily sought treatment and 65 who were forced to seek addiction treatment based on the Norwegian Municipal Health Care Act, which requires individuals with severe substance use disorders to get treatment.

At the onset of inpatient treatment, the voluntary group exhibited a higher level of mental distress than the compulsory group. The high levels seen in the voluntary group could have motivated its members to seek treatment. Lower levels observed in the compulsory group could have stemmed from the fact that members of this group were admitted to inpatient addiction treatment because of the severity of their substance use disorder, rather than underlying mental health issues.

Levels of mental distress of both groups diminished at a similar rate during treatment; a majority of participants in the study saw their levels of mental distress reduce to below the clinical cut-off for pathology at the end of treatment, researchers found.

Individuals in both groups were given follow-up interviews six months after the conclusion of inpatient treatment.

The two groups followed different paths after discharge.  The voluntary group maintained a lower level of psychological distress than the compulsory group. In fact, the compulsory group’s level of mental distress six months after treatment returned to the levels observed prior to treatment.

The findings suggest that the voluntary group may have had more motivation to make changes to their patterns of substance abuse than the compulsory group, who may not have viewed their substance abuse as problematic or had as much willingness to reduce their drug use.

The primary reason the compulsory group had an increased level of… (continue reading)