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Quality of life (QoL) in patients admitted to a general hospital was compared with those admitted to a detoxification unit for the treatment of substance use disorder (SUD). This study combines data from two separate data collections: a cross-sectional study in a general hospital unit (somatic sample, N = 519) and a follow-up study in a detoxification unit (SUD sample, N = 140). A total of 659 patients recruited during 2008–2013 were included in this study. All patients completed a generic QoL questionnaire at inclusion, and the SUD sample also completed it at the six-month follow-up. SUD patients experienced comparably low physical QoL and had significantly lower psychological, social, and existential QoL domain scores when compared with the somatic sample. Mental distress and having a SUD were the major factors explaining variations in QoL, with both influencing QoL negatively. In the SUD sample, QoL improved moderately at the six-month follow-up with less improvement for the domain relationship to a partner. To facilitate the recovery of SUD patients, clinicians must view their patients’ situation holistically and invest efforts into the different life domains affected by poor QoL.
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