The importance of addiction treatment engagement

Researchers from Brandeis University recently conducted a study to find out whether engagement in outpatient addiction treatment can reduce the chance of a subsequent admission to drug detox. They found that treatment engagement is not only “a useful measure” for monitoring the standard and quality of care, it was also associated with lower rates of subsequent admissions to drug detox.

In this context, researchers defined treatment engagement as a tool to measure the performance of addiction treatment for substance use disorders, which focuses on whether or not individuals in treatment receive a minimum amount of services during their first weeks in treatment. They sought to find a relationship between treatment engagement and subsequent drug detox because drug detox following treatment is typically considered a negative event.

Data used in the research consisted of information on addiction treatment services that clients received in 59 licensed facilities in Massachusetts. A total of 11,591 adults were used in the sample, all of which began outpatient addiction treatment in 2006. Researchers considered treatment engagement that consisted of at least one service of treatment within 14 days of commencing a new outpatient treatment program, and at least two more addiction treatment services in the next 30-day period. Approximately one-third of the clients used in the sample were women, and 80 percent of clients did not receive drug detox services in the previous year.

Approximately 35 percent of the clients used in the sample “engaged” in treatment. Of those, the women, older clients, unemployed clients and homeless clients had higher rates of engagement. And the mean and median rate of engagement across the 59 facilities was 37 percent.

The study found that the clients who engaged in an outpatient addiction treatment program had a lower likelihood to receive drug detox throughout the following year. This result supported the importance of treatment engagement, researchers wrote.

Another important finding of the study was that higher engagement was associated with a decrease in drug detox admissions that aren’t followed by treatment. Individuals who engaged during addiction treatment were 21 percent less likely to… (continue reading)