Program Diversity and Treatment Retention Rates in the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Study (DATOS)

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Stays of 3 months or longer in drug abuse treatment generally predict better follow-up outcomes. In a national sample of community-based programs that participated in the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Study, median lengths of stay were 3 months for clients in long-term residential and outpatient drug-free treatments and 1 year for clients in outpatient methadone treatment. However, individual programs within each of these modalities differed widely in how long they kept their clients in treatment as well as their service delivery. Programs treating individuals with heavier cocaine and alcohol use and more psychological dysfunction usually had shorter retention rates. Nonetheless, even after statistically controlling for these client differences, some programs were more effective than others in engaging and retaining clients.

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