This study investigates the impact of residential versus outpatient treatment setting on treatment completion, and how this impact might vary by demographic characteristics and drug of choice, using a national sample of publicly funded substance abuse programs in the United States.
This is a retrospective analysis using data extracted from the 2011 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS-D). A total of 318,924 cases were analyzed using logistic regression, fixed-effects logistic regression, and moderated fixed-effects logistic regression.
Residential programs reported a 65% completion rate compared to 52% for outpatient settings. After controlling for other confounding factors, clients in residential treatment were nearly three times as likely as clients in outpatient treatment to complete treatment. The effect of residential treatment on treatment completion was not significantly moderated by gender, but it was for age, drug of choice, and race/ethnicity. Residential compared to outpatient treatment increased the likelihood of completion to a greater degree for older clients, Whites, and opioid abusers, as compared to younger clients, non-Whites, and alcohol and other substance users, respectively.
We speculate that for opioid abusers, as compared to abusers of other drugs, residential treatment settings provide greater protection from environmental and social triggers that may lead to relapse and non-completion of treatment. Greater use of residential treatment should be explored for opioid users in particular.