Rapid Assessment of Nutrition Services in Los Angeles Substance Use Disorder Treatment Centers


The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of nutrition services and utilization of registered dietitian nutritionists at substance use disorder treatment centers in Los Angeles. This cross-sectional descriptive study utilized phone interviews with facilities within a 25-mile radius of the Los Angeles metropolitan area using the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Services Locator to identify facilities that included a listing of substance abuse as primary focus of care (n = 128). Facilities were asked if they offered any kind of nutrition services, the type of services that were offered, and the credential of the professional providing the services. We compared facilities that offered a residential level of care to those offering outpatient services only. The Fisher’s exact test was used to determine statistical significance. The study showed that only 39 sites (30.5%) offered any type of nutrition services on site, and the odds of a residential level of care offering nutrition services was 2.7 times higher than outpatient only facilities (p = 0.02). Of the 39 facilities offering nutrition services, only 8 (20.5%) utilized a registered dietitian nutritionist. Overall fewer than 7% of the facilities utilized the services of a dietitian. Recovery programs for substance use disorder should consider using a registered dietitian nutritionist as a member of the treatment team, which may contribute to better clinical outcomes.

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Author information




MS collected the data and contributed sections to the manuscript. DW assisted with data collection protocols and wrote the first draft of manuscript. MP edited and contributed to the manuscript. All authors reviewed and commented on subsequent drafts of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to David A. Wiss.

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Conflict of interest

David Wiss is the founder and owner of Nutrition in Recovery LLC which provides nutrition services to substance use disorder treatment facilities in Los Angeles, CA, including some in the sample. Mr. Wiss was not involved in contacting any of the facilities.

Ethics Approval

This study was approved by the University of Southern California University Park Institutional Review Board under Study ID: UP-16-00334.

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Wiss, D.A., Schellenberger, M. & Prelip, M.L. Rapid Assessment of Nutrition Services in Los Angeles Substance Use Disorder Treatment Centers. J Community Health 44, 88–94 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-018-0557-2

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  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Substance-related disorders
  • Nutrition
  • Treatment