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The effects of completing substance abuse treatment on rates of employment, criminal activity, and abstinence: A literature review

17 July 2013


A plethora of researchers have analyzed the effects of treatment length on various outcome measures for patients in substance abuse treatment. Results indicate treatment length positively impacts patients’ post-treatment functioning. However, due to the financial constraints of patients and pressure from insurance companies for abbreviated treatment, patients may not always be able to afford extended time in treatment. Determining the effect treatment completion has on patients’ post-treatment functioning will help inform patients as well as health care professionals. Research was compiled that focused on the effect treatment completion has on patients’ post-treatment functioning with respect to drug use, employment, and criminal activity. Results indicate patients who completed treatment, regardless of treatment modality, were significantly more likely to have improved functioning post-treatment compared to individuals who did not complete treatment. Research suggests there are various characteristics (e.g., race, employment status, gender) that mediate a patient’s likelihood of successfully completing treatment. Although there were limitations with respect to the selected studies, patients who were offered more culturally responsive and comprehensive services (e.g., legal, vocational, aftercare) had more positive post-treatment outcomes compared to patients who did not receive equitable services.


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