Article

The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 20-36

First online:

Engagement in Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment and Employment Outcomes

  • Robert DuniganAffiliated withInstitute for Behavioral Health, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University Email author 
  • , Andrea AcevedoAffiliated withInstitute for Behavioral Health, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
  • , Kevin CampbellAffiliated withDivision of Behavioral Health and Recovery, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
  • , Deborah W. GarnickAffiliated withInstitute for Behavioral Health, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
  • , Constance M. HorganAffiliated withInstitute for Behavioral Health, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
  • , Alice HuberAffiliated withDivision of Behavioral Health and Recovery, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
  • , Margaret T. LeeAffiliated withInstitute for Behavioral Health, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
  • , Lee PanasAffiliated withInstitute for Behavioral Health, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
  • , Grant A. RitterAffiliated withInstitute for Behavioral Health, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

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Abstract

This study, a collaboration between an academic research center and Washington State’s health, employment, and correction departments, investigates the extent to which treatment engagement, a widely adopted performance measure, is associated with employment, an important outcome for individuals receiving treatment for substance use disorders. Two-stage Heckman probit regressions were conducted using 2008 administrative data for 7,570 adults receiving publicly funded treatment. The first stage predicted employment in the year following the first treatment visit, and three separate second-stage models predicted the number of quarters employed, wages, and hours worked. Engagement as a main effect was not significant for any of the employment outcomes. However, for clients with prior criminal justice involvement, engagement was associated with both employment and higher wages following treatment. Clients with criminal justice involvement face greater challenge regarding employment, so the identification of any actionable step which increases the likelihood of employment or wages is an important result.