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Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2002;28(1):55-72.

Determining predictors of attrition in an outpatient substance abuse program.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Substance Abuse-Medications Development Research Center, The University of Texas-Houston Medical School, 77030, USA.


Determining pre-treatment variables that predict attrition in an outpatient cocaine abuse program is critically important in efforts to enhance retention and ultimately improve client outcome. Potential predictors have been identified, such as treatment history, deviant behaviors, and level of drug use; however there is not widespread agreement on their applicability across treatments and populations. This study examines the relationship of demographic, drug use severity, and psychosocial factors with treatment attrition and the time of dropout. One hundred and sixty-five individuals from the Houston area, seeking treatment for cocaine dependence, completed a pre-treatment assessment battery prior to starting 12 weeks of outpatient treatment. A series of regression analyses showed that treatment dropouts were more likely to be separated from their spouses, have poorer family/social functioning, have fewer years of education, and to be female. Those participants with higher education levels and those with poorer psychiatric functioning tended to remain in treatment longer. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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