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 addicts leaving 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 1 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 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 drugs or alcohol in the previous 30 days
3-stars: Center claims to be measuring their success rates, but it either does not yet have one year results or the data has not been submitted to us for validation
2-stars: Center has no formal follow-up program, but tries to stay in touch with clients through its alumni program or other informal avenues
1-star: Center does not track success rates in a scientific fashion