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 are reachable and claim to have abstained 

from all non-prescribed 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, until recently, 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's Rating Scale



Conquer Addiction has asked treatment centers who are tracking their outcomes to submit a detailed research report for our review every year.  We rate each treatment center that has claimed to be doing outcomes research on a 1- to 5-star scale based upon the following:

5-stars:  At least 35% of the 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.  These programs receive Conquer Addiction's "Excellence in Treatment" award for the year in which data was submitted.  

4-stars:  At least 30% of the 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.  

3-stars:  At least 25% of the 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.  Under the assumption that only treatment center leaders who are reasonably confident that their success rates will be better than average will make the significant investment to do outcomes research, Conquer Addiction will also award 3 stars to centers for which we can verify that they started a legitimate outcomes research program within the last 14 months. 

2-stars:  At least 20% of the 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.  

1-star:  Less than 20% of the 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.  Treatment centers that  claimed to have started measuring their success rates more than 14 months ago but that have not provided any data to Conquer Addiction are also given a 1-star rating.  

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.

 

Additionally, since it takes two full years for a treatment center to follow up with a year's worth of their patients at 12 months post-treatment, Conquer Addiction will also rate centers on the basis of their six months post-treatment data.  Centers providing six month data will be required to have success rates that exceed the above percentages by 10%.  In other words, to be awarded a 5-star rating, a center will be required to show that at least 45% of the clients who left treatment six months previously were reachable and claimed to have abstained completely from non-prescribed drugs or alcohol in the previous 30 days.