How full do you want your recovery to be?

Bill White on the importance of primary care:


The Philadelphia survey goes beyond affirming the significant prevalence of recovery in the general population to provide a detailed profile of the health of people in recovery.  The results are sobering.  People in recovery, compared to citizens not in recovery, are twice as likely to describe their health as poor and report higher rates of asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and past-year emergency room visits. They are also more likely to report lifetime smoking (82% vs. 44%), current smoking (50% vs. 17%), exposure to smoke in their residence, no daily exercise and eating fast food three or more times per week.

At its most practical level, the survey findings suggest that every person entering recovery should have an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician who is knowledgeable about addiction recovery and who can serve as an ongoing consultant on the achievement of health and wellness.


8 thoughts on “How full do you want your recovery to be?

  1. On a related note, I read this article yesterday:
    It examines the data showing that moderate drinkers live longer than non-drinkers, often cited as a reason to continue drinking and, in fact, “Some researchers* have advocated for national guidelines that discourage nondrinking and encourage moderate alcohol consumption.” One of the main factors that skews the life expectancy of non-drinkers is that “adults who quit drinking because of their histories with problem drinking or for health reasons have among the highest rates of death among the nondrinkers.”

    1. For some of the drinkers who quit drinking, their health will already be damaged and their individual life expectancy extended, not shortened, by stopping drinking. If 80% continue to smoke, compared to less than 20% of the general population, it may be that this (and multiple other factors) are linked to the increased risk of early death.

      Other research shows better mental and physical health (compared to the general population) reported for people in long term recovery (the better than well research). It may be that people in recovery are a separate sub-group who do better than people who just stop drinking.

      In any case the authors’ conclusion from the research you link to is:

      “Our results suggest that broad encouragements to drink in moderation, rather than nondrinking, may yield few survival benefits”

      1. Quite welcome. Thought it lent insight on the diversity of non-drinkers and the way the evidence for the “health benefits” of moderate drinking is skewed, as well as the overall poorer health outcomes among people who used to abuse substances and then quit. And thanks to you for your frequent, eclectic and quality blog posts.

  2. I have always been concerned about the number of people in recovery who continue to smoke. It’s a blind spot for many and the horrible irony is that many will still die of addiction related causes. I’m afraid it goes down like a bit of a lead balloon when I speak on it. I think there’s genuine denial going on.

  3. I could not agree more with Bill White. That is why I beleive that people in recovery or in need of recovery are best served by addiction medicine physicians with a background in primary care medicine (FP or IM). They would then be able to care for the patient’s mind, body and spirit all together in one setting.

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