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J Stud Alcohol. 1998 Sep;59(5):513-22.

Influence of outpatient treatment and 12-step group involvement on one-year substance abuse treatment outcomes.

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  • 1Center for Health Care Evaluation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, & Stanford University Medical Center, California, USA.



This study examined whether substance abuse patients self-selecting into one of three aftercare groups (outpatient treatment only, 12-step groups only, and outpatient treatment and 12-step groups) and patients who did not participate in aftercare differed on 1-year substance use and psychosocial outcomes.


A total of 3,018 male patients filled out a questionnaire at intake and 1 year following discharge from treatment. Patients were classified into aftercare groups at follow-up using information from VA databases and self-reports.


Patients who participated in both outpatient treatment and 12-step groups fared the best on 1-year outcomes. Patients who did not obtain aftercare had the poorest outcomes. In terms of the amount of intervention received, patients who had more outpatient mental health treatment, who more frequently attended 12-step groups or were more involved in 12-step activities had better 1-year outcomes. In addition, patients who kept regular outpatient appointments over a longer time period fared better than those who did not.


Encouraging substance abuse patients to regularly attend both outpatient aftercare and self-help groups may improve long-term outcomes.

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