Success Rates

How should addiction treatment success be defined?  We've looked at it from a parent's perspective, asking "If I send my child to this program, do they have a fighting chance to be clean & sober one year from now?"  As a result, we've chosen to define treatment program success as follows:

What percentage of the patients who left treatment one year ago have abstained from all drugs and alcohol for at least the last 30 days?

Unfortunately, very few treatment centers systemically follow up with their clients after they leave treatment to determine if they’ve been able to stay clean and sober.  While the majority of treatment center personnel agree they should be collecting this data, almost none of them have made the effort to do so.  And it is true that accurate success rate data is hard to collect, because patients leaving addiction treatment are notoriously difficult to track. 

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) takes this into account in setting baseline standards for measuring the reliability and validity of substance abuse treatment outcomes.  Their requirement for continuing to fund a program is that at least 80% of all patients agree to participate in research and that the center is able to reach a minimum of 60% of these patients for follow-up at multiple time points after treatment.   Combining these two requirements, SAMHSA requires that a center be able to follow up with 48% (80% x 60%) of the clients who attended their center.

Conquer Addiction has asked treatment centers who are tracking success rates to send a report of their outcome data for our review.  We are rating each treatment center on a 2 to 5 scale based upon our knowledge of what (if any) success tracking they are doing:

5-stars:  At least 30% of their clients who left treatment one year previously were reachable & claimed to have abstained completely from non-prescribed drugs or alcohol in the previous 30 days.  Or, for centers who have recently started outcomes research, at least 40% of their clients who left treatment six months previously were reachable & claimed to have abstained completely from non-prescribed drugs or alcohol in the previous 30 days.

4-stars:  At least 25% of their clients who left treatment one year previously were reachable & claimed to have abstained completely from non-prescribed drugs or alcohol in the previous 30 days.  Or, for centers who have recently started outcomes research, at least 33% of their clients who left treatment six months previously were reachable & claimed to have abstained completely from non-prescribed drugs or alcohol in the previous 30 days.

3-stars:  Conquer Addiction has verified that the center is measuring its success rates, but it is too early for data to be available. 

2-stars:  Less than 25% of their clients who left treatment one year previously were reachable & claimed to have abstained completely from non-prescribed drugs or alcohol in the previous 30 days.  Or, for centers who have recently started outcomes research, less than 33% of their clients who left treatment six months previously were reachable & claimed to have abstained completely from non-prescribed drugs or alcohol in the previous 30 days

No stars:  Conquer Addiction has not been able to verify that the center is scientifically measuring its success rates.  Since very, very few centers do so, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of these centers are not doing post-treatment outcomes research.