A recovery-oriented critical interpretive synthesis of withdrawal tools in the Journal of Substance Use

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Background: As the accurate and sensitive measurement of withdrawal constitutes a crucial component of detoxification, there is a need to apply a recovery-oriented lens and critical review to substance withdrawal tools. Methods: Adhering to PRISMA guidelines and applying a recovery-oriented lens, I conducted a critical interpretive synthesis on articles that used substance withdrawal tools published in the Journal of Substance Use. I used a recovery-oriented lens to critically assess the strengths and limitations of the substance withdrawal tools. Results: A total of 10 studies met eligibility criteria. These 10 studies used 13 different tools to measure withdrawal. Results of the analysis indicated that most tools were relatively brief, were substance-specific, did not contain subscales, and framed items in a negative manner. Perhaps most noteworthy, the tools were not created with input from service users. Conclusions: The diminutive number of studies measuring withdrawal is indicative of a consequential gap in the literature. While most withdrawal tools contained relatively few items, they should be substance-specific and contain subscales to assess multiple domains. There is a need for service user involvement in the design of withdrawal tools. Implications for clinical practice, limitations of the study, and suggestions for future research are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-776
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Substance Use
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Withdrawal
  • addiction
  • assessment
  • critical interpretive synthesis
  • measure
  • psychometric instruments
  • recovery
  • substance use
  • tool


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