Exploring the concepts of abstinence and recovery through the experiences of long term opiate substitution clients

Caitlin Notley, Annie Blyth, Vivienne Maskrey, Hayley Pinto, Richard Holland

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Background: This study aimed to explore the client experience of long-term opiate substitution treatment (OST). Methods: A qualitative grounded theory study set in a UK rural community drug treatment service. Results: Continuous OST enabled stability and a sense of “normality.” Participants expressed relief at moving away from previous chaotic lifestyles and freedom from the persistent fear of opiate withdrawal. However, for some, being on a script made them feel withdrawn, lethargic, and unable to fully participate in mainstream society. Intrapersonal barriers (motivation and fear) were perceived as key barriers to abstinence. Conclusions: Participants experienced long-term OST as a transition between illicit drug use and recovery. Recovery was seen as a process rather than a fixed goal, confirming that there is a need for services to negotiate individualized recovery goals, spanning harm minimization and abstinence-oriented treatment approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-239
Number of pages8
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number2
Early online date15 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Opiate Substitution treatment
  • Opiate addiction
  • opiate dependence
  • qualitative research

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