Relapse after Inpatient Substance Use Treatment



The main aim was to investigate the relative roles of mental distress and intrinsic motivation for relapse after inpatient substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, while adjusting for demographics and treatment variables.


The study is based on a prospective multicenter study with a baseline gross sample of 607 patients with SUD (response rate = 84%) admitted to an inpatient stay at one of five specialized SUD treatment centers in Norway. The analytical sample consisted of patients with illicit drug use (n = 374) who took part in a follow-up interview three months after discharge from inpatient treatment (n = 249) (retention rate = 67%). Data were collected using information from electronic medical records, a self-report questionnaire at treatment entry, and a follow-up interview.


Relapse occurred among 37% of the sample by three-month follow-up. Results of multivariable analysis showed that younger age and having a psychiatric diagnosis were associated with an elevated relapse risk. Patients who received treatment at a short-term clinic (2–4 months), as opposed to a long-term clinic (>6 months) were also at increased risk of relapse, regardless of their length of stay. Reduced risk of relapse was predicted by having completed the inpatient treatment stay.


Identifying the treatment needs of young patients and patients with co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses during and following inpatient SUD treatment may contribute to reduced post-treatment relapse rates. Further research is needed to illuminate the treatment-related factors that contribute to reduced risk of relapse after inpatient SUD treatment.

Andersson, H. W., Wenaas, M., & Nordfjærn, T. (2019). Relapse after inpatient substance use treatment: A prospective cohort study among users of illicit substances. Addictive behaviors, 90, 222-228.
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