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Addiction Relapse and Its Predictors: A Prospective Study | OMICS International
ISSN: 2155-6105
Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy

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Addiction Relapse and Its Predictors: A Prospective Study

Asghar Mohammadpoorasl1*, Ali Fakhari2, Hossein Akbari3, Fattaneh Karimi4, Mohammad Arshadi Bostanabad5, Fatemeh Rostami6 and Mohammad Hajizadeh7

1Asghar Mohammadpoorasl, PhD student of Epidemiology, National Public Health Management Center (NPMC), Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

2Student of Epidemiology, National Public Health Management Center (NPMC), Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

3Associate Professor of psychiatry, Clinical Psychiatry Research Center, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

4Student of Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

5Nusing School of Maragheh, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

6Student of Nursing, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

7Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of Western Ontario, Ontario, Canada

*Corresponding Author:
Asghar Mohammadpoorasl
, PhD, Student of Epidemiology
National Public Health Management Center (NPMC)
Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

Received February 14, 2012; Accepted March 16, 2012; Published March 20, 2012

Citation: Mohammadpoorasl A, Fakhari A, Akbari H, Karimi F, Arshadi Bostanabad M, et al.(2012) Addiction Relapse and Its Predictors: A Prospective Study. J Addict Res Ther 3:122. doi:10.4172/2155-6105.1000122

Copyright: © 2012 Mohammadpoorasl A, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Drug addiction has been recognized as a chronic, relapsing illness for several years. This study aims to estimate relapse rate and determine its predictors in Iran. In this prospective study, we studied 436 patients referring voluntarily to an addiction treatment center in Maragheh, Iran. We completed two questionnaires at the beginning of study and six months after cessation by conducting interviews with patients by trained interviewers. Logistic regression model was used in order to identify the predictors of relapse in our sample. After six months follow-up, we found that the relapse rate was 64.0% (CI 95%: 59.3-68.4). The results of logistic model indicate that smoking (OR=12.15), having a drug user in the family (OR=2.54), having lower hope to quit (OR=2.61), unemployment (OR=2.78) and stay connected with drug user friends after quitting (OR=46.7) were factors associated with relapse. This study similar to other studies showed a high relapse rate and determined some of its risk factors among addicts.


Addiction; Relapse; Longitudinal study; Substance abuse; Iran


Substance abuse is a chronic, relapsing illness. A large proportion of individuals who have been treated for addiction tend to re-use drug shortly after treatment [1,2]. Factors such as stress, depression, anxiety, positive mood, social pressure, adverse life events, work stress, marital conflict, family dysfunction, and a lower level of social support have been reported as relapse reasons [3-5].

Despite the use of any type of opiate drugs is illegal in Iran, drug addiction is one of the main social disorders in this country. This is due to the fact that Iran lies on a major drug route between Afghanistan -- the world’s biggest producer of opium—and opiate consumers in Europe. Consequently, this increases the availability of the opium and heroin in Iran. It is estimated that more than 2 million Iranian are addicted to opium and/or heroin and the number is rising [6]. Therefore, it is necessary to develop efficient interventions, such as relapse prevention programs. In order to have effective program one need to determine predictors of relapse. This study aims to provide some information on the relapse rate and to determine its predictors in individuals who addicted to opium and opiate drugs.

Materials and Methods

In this prospective study, 436 patients were studied. The sample was drawn from patients referring voluntarily to an addiction treatment center in Maragheh, a city in northwest of Iran. We entered all referred patients to the center into the study from September 2008 until our target sample size met. Patients who did not become abstinent or relapsed within the treatment period were excluded from study.

A questionnaire that included questions about demographic, personal, and environmental characteristics was completed by conducting an interview with patients by trained interviewers. Patients were followed up for 6 months after cessation for assessing of relapse and patient’s condition in that period. In this study, “relapse” was defined as: “re-use of drugs during the 6 months after quit date”. Our method to characterize relapse was as follow: If a patient himself has announced that he consumed any type of opiate drugs during the 6-month follow-up period, we considered him patient as relapse. Otherwise, we asked from one of his family members (who live with patient in a house) whether or not the patient used drug within the past 6 months. If the answer is positive, we considered the patient as relapse. Ethical Committee of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences has approved this study and all patients signed an informed consent.

The logistic regression model was used to determine the predictors of relapse. Thechi-square test and independent t-test were used to evaluate the statistical significance of each predictor. We performed our analysis using Stata-10 and SPSS-16 statistical package programs.


The descriptive statistics showed that our sample consists of relatively young individual people with an average age of 31.38 (SD, 7.61) years (ranges 18 to 55 years), and only 1.4 percent of subjects were female. Seven percent of individuals in our sample had university degree and 50.2 percent were unemployed.

Six out of 436 subjects in the study had unknown status because of loss to follow-up, 155 (36.0%, CI 95%: 31.6-40.7) subjects were successful quitters (abstinent), and 275 (64.0%, CI 95%: 59.3-68.4) subjects relapsed after quitting. The average age of abstinent and relapsed individuals were 31.7 (SD, 6.9) and 31.2 (SD, 8.0), respectively (P-value=0.459). The mean age of drug abuse unset of the abstinent and relapsed subjects were 20.3 (SD, 3.0) and 20.0 (SD, 2.8), respectively (P-value=0.401). Table 1 reports association of demographic and key characteristics of subjects with quitting status (abstinent or relapse). As shown in this table, all variables have significant association with quit status, with the exception of educational level and marital status.

Variables Quit status P-value
N (%)
N (%)
Education level      
Illiterate 6(33.3) 12(66.7) 0.812
Elementary school 42(40.0) 63(60.0)  
Guidance school 58(33.0) 118(67.0)  
High school 37(37.4) 62(62.6)  
University education 11(36.7) 19(63.3)  
Marital status      
Single 67(31.2) 143(68.1) 0.145
Married 85(40.1) 124(59.3)  
Divorced 3(27.3) 8(72.7)  
Student 6(28.6) 15(71.4) 0.011
Unemployed & housewife 53(25.5) 155(74.5)  
Governmental employee & retired 7(36.8) 12(63.2)  
Self-employed 66(41.8) 92(58.2)  
Type of consumed drug      
Heroin 83(34.6) 157(65.4) 0.009
Opium 2(16.7) 10(83.3)  
Crack 24(28.2) 61(71.8)  
More than one drug 45(49.5) 46(50.5)  
Smoking status      
Ex-smoker 15(75.0) 5(25.0) P<0.001
Current smoker 132(32.8) 270(67.2)  
First consumed drug (other than cigarettes and alcohol)      
Cannabis 119(33.6) 235(66.4) 0.037
Opium 22(44.0) 28(56.0)  
Heroin 14(56.0) 11(44.0)  
Have drug user in the family      
Yes 55(25.6) 160(74.4) P<0.001
No 99(46.7) 70(53.3)  
Having a family disputes      
Very high or high 4(10.0) 36(90.0) P<0.001
Somewhat 17(9.9) 154(90.1)  
Low 125(60.4) 82(39.6)  
Hoping to quit      
Very high 119(48.2) 128(51.8) P<0.001
High 32(24.4) 99(75.6)  
Somewhat or low 3(8.6) 32(91.4)  
Employment status after quitting      
Employed 102(72.5) 41(27.5) P<0.001
Unemployed 53(18.5) 234(81.5)  
Stay connected with drug-user friends after quitting      
Yes 6(2.3) 259(97.7) P<0.001
No 148(90.8) 15(9.2)  

Table 1: Percentage of demographic and key characteristics of subjects by quit status (abstinentor relapse).

We employed a logistic model in order to evaluate the relationship between significant variables in univariate analysis and relapse. The results of this analysis presented in Table 2. The results indicate that smoking (OR=12.15), having drug user in the family (OR=2.54), having lower hope to quit (OR=2.61), unemployment (OR=2.78) and stay connected with drug user friends after quitting (OR=46.7) were factors associated with relapse.


Results of several studies have suggested that relapse is common after treatment for drug addiction. In a ten-year prospective followup study, Xie et al. [2] have showed that approximately one-third of clients who were in full remission relapsed in the first year, and twothirds relapsed over the full follow-up period. Moore et al. [7] have reported that 71% who achieved 2 weeks of continuous abstinence during outpatient treatment for marijuana dependence relapsed to marijuana use within 6 months. Furthermore, Smyth et al. [8] have reported 91% relapse rate. Our study also confirms that drug relapse is a common phenomenon among patients. However, we found relatively a high rate of relapse (64.0%) in our 6 months follow-up study. These findings support Rounsaville’s claim that relapse and relapse prevention represent the major challenges faced by clinicians who work with addicts [9].

This study also determined the association between relapse and some of individual and socio-environmental variables. Although numerous studies demonstrated that younger age is related to relapse to addiction [8,10], results of our study showed no difference in the average age of relapsed and non-relapsed patients. In contrast with some studies that found that low literacy is associated with relapse to addiction [2,11], our results showed that the relapse rates are similar at different levels of educational. Moreover, unlike the results of a study by Walton et al. [1], this study did not show that being single is associate with relapse.

The results of logistic regression indicated that having drug user in the family (OR=2.61), being unemployed (OR=2.78), and stay connected with drug user friends after quitting (OR=46.7) were main factors associated with relapse. These results are consistent with some of the previous studies [5,10-12]. Results also showed that smoking (OR=12.15) and having lower hope to quit (OR=2.61) were two other factors that determined relapse.

We acknowledge that, there are several aspects in this study that limit the applicability of these findings. First limitation of the study relates to the duration of time between patient discharges from addiction treatment center and interview (6 months) for assessing relapse and events happening at this time. This may contribute to retrospective recall bias by patients. If recall bias were present it would have reduced our ability to detect significant associations between relapse and the factors which predict it. A second limitation relates to the fact that relapse is increasingly recognized as a complex product of a dynamic interaction of many more distal, intermediate, proximal and transitional factors than those relatively few factors considered by this study. The third limitation of the study is related to generalizability of findings. This can be due to the reason that demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of patients attending drug treatment centers might be different from those who do not refer to these centers for quitting. Thus, we cannot generalize our findings to those who attempt to quit drug without attending treatment centers. In conclusion, this study similar to other studies has shown high relapse rate and determined some of its risk factors among addicts.

Variable Odds Ratio CI (95%) P-value
Smoking (Currently) 12.15 1.17-41.81 .017
First consumed drug
(other than cigarettes and alcohol)
Cannabis 1 - -
Opium 3.04 0.78-11.90 0.112
Heroin 6.87 0.64-24.40 0.109
Have drug user in the family 2.54 1.05-7.65 0.026
Having lower hope to quit 2.61 1.05-5.48 0.036
Unemployed after quitting 2.78 1.17- 7.41 0.032
Stayed connected with drug user friends after quitting 46.7 12.7-80.9 P<0.001

Table 2: Logistic regression analysis of the relationship between “relapse” and “risk variables”.


This work was supported by research grant from Research Deputy of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences. Thereby their support is being greatly appreciated.


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