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Br J Psychiatry. 1989 Mar;154:348-53.

Lapse, relapse and survival among opiate addicts after treatment. A prospective follow-up study.

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Drug Dependence Clinical Research and Treatment Unit, Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham, Kent.


This paper presents data from the first British prospective study to investigate relapse among opiate addicts after treatment. Eighty subjects were followed up over the six-month period immediately after discharge from treatment and were interviewed on several occasions. Large numbers of subjects used opiates within a very short time after discharge; 71% used them within the first six weeks. However, this first lapse to opiate use did not herald a full-blown relapse to dependent use. There was a gradual increase in the number of abstinent subjects, with 45% abstinent and living in the community at the six-month point. The practical and theoretical implications may be regarded as broadly encouraging.

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