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Study: Chronic Care Approach to Substance Abuse Treatment No Better Than Usual Care

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A new study finds a substance abuse treatment program that approaches addiction as a chronic disease is no more effective than a single medical visit and a referral to addiction treatment resources.

People treated for drug and alcohol addiction were assigned to receive chronic care management or usual addiction care. Chronic care management included intensive medical care at a primary care clinic, counseling to prevent relapses, and addiction and psychiatric treatment. Usual care included one medical visit, in which patients received a list of resources for addiction treatment.

The year-long study of almost 600 adults found that 44 percent of patients who received chronic care management had stopped drinking or using drugs, compared with 42 percent of those who received usual care, HealthDay reports.

Lead researcher Dr. Richard Saitz of Boston University says he has not given up on chronic care management for addiction, but acknowledged it will not be effective for everyone. He added more studies are needed to identify the best way to use chronic care management, and who will receive the greatest benefit. “We have to recognize that people with drug or alcohol addictions may be different and it’s not one monolithic disorder,” he said. “I do think that integrated chronic care management, in the future, is going to be efficacious for people with addictions.”

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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