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Abstinence at Successful Discharge in Publicly Funded Addiction Health Services


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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Jemima A. Frimpong PhD, MPH.

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Frimpong, J.A., Guerrero, E.G., Kong, Y. et al. Abstinence at Successful Discharge in Publicly Funded Addiction Health Services. J Behav Health Serv Res 43, 661–675 (2016).

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  • Heroin
  • Methadone Maintenance Treatment
  • Treatment Completion
  • Treatment Episode
  • Disorder Treatment