A new study has found that dental care can significantly help drug abuse patients recover, as well as improve their quality of life.
"There is a powerful synergy between oral health care and substance use disorder," lead author of the study Glen Hans, a professor at the University of Utah Health, told a news portal.
Researchers investigated this association by developing the FLOSS (Facilitating a Lifetime of Oral Health Sustainability for Substance Use Disorder Patients and Families) programme with two substance use clinics - Odyssey House and First Step House.
Patients in First Step House had the choice to select dental care or be part of the control group. 158 male participants chose dental, while 862 male participants chose to be in the control group.InOdyssey House, drug abuse patients were randomly assigned to treatment or the control group. 70 males and 58 females were in the dental group. Meanwhile, 97 males and 45 females were in the control group. The results showed that drug abuse patients who were treated for their oral health issues were likely to stay in treatment and had an 80 per cent chance of completing the drug abuse program.
The results showed those participants that were part of the FLOSS programme were more likely to stay with treatment and complete the substance use treatment programme."Those who received comprehensive dental care had a better quality of life, measured by substantial improvements in employment and drug abstinence as well as a dramatic decrease in homelessness," Hanson told a news portal.
Providing such a service to patients can be instrumental in helping them gain their self-esteem back, which is a crucial first step in recovery. "The experience is life-changing not only for patients but also dental service providers like dental students who now know how their work can dramatically alter their patients' lives," told a news portal. Adding, "I think if we do the same for patients experiencing other chronic health problems, like diabetes, we could see similar positive results for treatment outcomes." The study's findings were originally published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
Previous research has found substance abuse causes one to make poor lifestyle choices, which impacts their quality of life. "For instance, using drugs recreationally, abusing alcohol or using 'study' drugs not only affects brain chemistry but may affect diet and sleep, which may further alter brain function and brain maturity,” study author Lina Begdache, an Assistant Professor at the Binghamton University, told a news portal. Adding, "When young adults follow a healthy lifestyle (diet, sleep, and exercise), they are more likely to avoid drugs and alcohol, which supports a normal brain maturity, which is then reflected in a higher GPA and responsible attitudes toward learning, work and family."