Hope for Help

problem-analysis-solutionThe Addiction Research Foundation seeks to improve Alcohol addiction research treatment outcomes with the primary goal of improving post-treatment quality of life through long-term outcomes research. Research Foundation Staff conducted a literature review that identified gaps in current research related to  addiction treatment outcomes. Current Foundation research projects are designed to address those research gaps.


Current Research

Quality of Life Among Substance Abusers in Treatment Programs

The Problem

Increasing drug use and alcohol abuse is a devastating and costly problem in the United States. Many alcohol and drug users cannot pay for treatment, do not have health insurance, or their health insurance limits the type or length of treatment covered. According to a national survey, in 2012, fewer than 11 percent of the 23.1 million people who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem reported receiving treatment in a facility focused on substance abuse.1

Under the Affordable Care Act, treatment providers will be reimbursed based on outcomes. As a result, providers urgently need research evidence that shows what methods improve treatment outcomes.

In particular, research is needed on outcomes for patients treated over time. Current measures tend to be relatively short-term, resulting in generalized assumptions with potential for inaccurate interventions.

Most treatment recommendations are based on our understanding of two small segments of the patient population:

  1. Those who follow treatment recommendations and appear in follow-up groups and data.
  2. Those who are not compliant and appear in the data as readmissions.

Unfortunately, we know very little about the largest segment of the treated population, those with unknown outcomes. This “unknown outcomes” group is made up of non-compliant patients (those who do not comply with follow-up treatment recommendations) who do not appear as readmissions.

The Project

Quality of Life Among Substance Abusers in Treatment Programs is designed to collect evidence that indicates what treatment methods improve outcomes for patients treated over time. The study will gather data from individuals across all segments of the treated population: the compliant, the noncompliant, and the unknown outcome group.

Over a 5-year period, study participants will be assessed at regular intervals post-treatment to identify components of primary treatment and aspects of the treatment discharge plan that are associated with reduction in substance use and improved quality of life.

A web-based assessment tool will be used to collect information from patients regarding:

  • Treatment and discharge plans/activities
  • Current substance use/abstinence
  • Psychological factors potentially associated with reduction of substance use and improved quality of life
  • Other psychosocial outcomes such as employment, education, income, general health, and mental well-being

Target Population
The study focuses on patients who voluntarily seek substance use treatment in privately funded, inpatient treatment centers in the United States.

Key Patient Characteristics

  • Self-admitted
  • Seeking drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Key Facility Characteristics

  • Privately funded
  • Not subject to the same cost restrictions as publicly funded institutions and can offer longer treatment programs
  • More likely to have lower staff-to-patient ratios
  • More likely to provide more ancillary services, and offer complementary and alternative treatment approaches.

Research Questions
The study seeks to answer the following primary research questions:

  1. What are facilitators and barriers to patient completion of inpatient treatment programs?
  2. What is the extent of discharge/recovery plans generally, and what aspects of discharge/recovery plans play a significant role in changing substance use and improved quality of life?
  3. What psychological factors play a role in positive treatment outcomes?
The Project

Initial piloting was conducted in Spring 2014. Data collection started in June 2014 and is anticipated to run through 2019.

Interim research findings will be posted on this website.

Future Research

The Foundation will use a brief survey to collect stories from adults who have improved their lives through their change of substance use. The survey will be available to the general public and promoted through our website and other social media outlets. If you are interested in being notified when the survey is available, please join our announcement list.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No, (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013. Retrieved March 18, 2014 from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2012SummNatFindDetTables/NationalFindings/NSDUHresults2012.htm#ch7.3.