Abstinence at Successful Discharge in Publicly Funded Addiction Health Services

  • Jemima A. FrimpongEmail author
  • Erick G. Guerrero
  • Yinfei Kong
  • Tina Kim


Abstinence at successful discharge in substance use disorder treatment is important to reducing relapse rates and increasing long-term recovery from substance use disorders. However, few studies have examined abstinence as an essential component of successful discharge. This study examined rates and correlates of reported abstinence (nonuse of drugs 30 days prior to successful discharge) among clients attending publicly funded treatment in Los Angeles County, California. Finding show that only 36% of clients who were successfully discharged reported abstinence. Black clients were less likely than non-Hispanic Whites to report abstinence at successful discharge. Clients in methadone treatment programs were less likely than outpatient clients to report abstinence, whereas clients referred to treatment through the legal system (Proposition 36) were more likely to report abstinence compared to self-referred clients. Findings underscore the importance of systematic assessment of abstinence in determining successful discharge and provide a basis for further examination of strategies to improve abstinence and reduce relapse.


Heroin Methadone Maintenance Treatment Treatment Completion Treatment Episode Disorder Treatment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Support for this research and manuscript preparation was provided by a National Institute of Drug Abuse research grant (R01 DA038608-01:Co-PIs: Erick Guerrero and Bryan Garner). The authors would like to thank Bryan Garner for his help conceptualizing the larger study. We appreciate Dr. Gary Tsai from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, for his support accessing administrative data. We also thank the treatment providers for their participation in this study. We also would like to acknowledge Whitney Peters, from the Mailman School of Public Health, and Eric Lindberg, from the School of Social Work at University of Southern California, for proofreading this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Behavioral Health 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jemima A. Frimpong
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erick G. Guerrero
    • 2
  • Yinfei Kong
    • 3
  • Tina Kim
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WorkUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Information Systems and Decision Sciences, Mihaylo College of Business and EconomicsCalifornia State University at FullertonFullertonUSA
  4. 4.Los Angeles County Department of Public HealthSubstance Abuse Prevention and ControlAlhambraUSA

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