Treatment Research

Predictors of Substance Abuse Treatment Completion or Transfer to Further Treatment, by Service Type

In Brief

  • In 2005, clients discharged from short-term residential treatment were more likely to complete treatment than clients discharged from long-term residential, outpatient, or intensive outpatient treatment settings.
  • Significant predictors of treatment completion or transfer among clients who were discharged from outpatient, intensive outpatient, long-term residential, or short-term residential treatment included: alcohol as the primary substance of abuse, less than daily use at admission, being over age 40, having 12 or more years of education, being White, referral to treatment by the criminal justice system, and being employed.
  • Among clients who were discharged from intensive outpatient treatment, men were more likely than women to complete treatment or transfer to another program or facility; however, among clients who were discharged from outpatient or long-term residential treatment, women were more likely than men to complete treatment or transfer to another facility.

Among adults who seek treatment for an alcohol or drug abuse problem, many do not complete an entire course of treatment. This finding is a concern given the research showing that length of stay in treatment is one of the strongest predictors of positive treatment outcomes.1,2 Identifying factors that predict treatment completion is an important step toward understanding what leads to successful treatment.
The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) is an annual compilation of data on the demographic characteristics and substance abuse problems of those admitted to and discharged from substance abuse treatment. TEDS also collects information on reasons for leaving substance abuse treatment. These include treatment completion, transfer to another substance abuse program or facility within a single episode of treatment, left against professional advice (i.e., dropped out), terminated by the facility (i.e., discharge was not because the client dropped out, was incarcerated, or any other client reason), and other reasons, such as death.3 Clients’ treatment may be terminated by a facility for a variety of reasons, such as not following facility rules or exhibiting violent behavior.
This report focuses on the 973,000 clients who were discharged from outpatient, intensive outpatient, long-term residential (more than 30 days), and short-term residential (30 days or fewer) treatment in 2005.4 Specifically, this report examines the proportion of clients discharged who completed treatment or transferred to further treatment and the demographic and substance use characteristics that predict treatment completion and transfer. Because treatment completion and transfer to further treatment represent positive conclusions to a treatment episode, understanding the characteristics of clients who are completing treatment or transferring to further treatment may assist providers to tailor programs that will yield more successful outcomes for their clients.

Treatment Research:

If you need treatment research, you can quickly discover information regarding research and science related to alcohol or drugs on this page. We plan on frequently adding information about topics to this page and into the future.

Addiction-Related Research Topics:

Addiction Science:

Addiction science is changing yearly as more and more information is coming to light on brain science and how drugs affect people in general. New treatment for medical detoxification and treatment are the largest areas of addiction science. What we do know is that the mechanism of action on the brain with some drugs is altering brain function and that treatment is one of the best ways to heal the brain and help someone return to a balanced life.


There is a lot that goes into prevention and the hardest part of prevention is learning new ways to measure the education and paths to prevention. Most people understand that if we can prevent someone from developing a substance use disorder in the first place, we can help save lives. There should be a new test to screen for the potential risk of developing a substance use disorder that will be coming available to the general public soon. The new screening test will involve addiction science and DNA testing.


There are so many different types of treatment programs in existence today. The newest research is the research surrounding a minimum of 90-days of addiction treatment or what is called 90-day treatment programs. There is a direct correlation between people who utilize 90-day treatment programs with better outcomes after discharging from a 90-day treatment program.

Stigma & Myths:

The stigma of addiction and those that have a substance use disorder is an ongoing educating process with people all across the United States and around the world. The biggest change we have seen lately is the use of social media platforms to inform people what addiction is and the difference in each substance use disorder.  The myth that addiction is a moral weakness is slowly being replaced with the reality that Addiction is a chronic brain disorder that can be treated.

Syringe Services or Needle Exchange:

This is a part of the harm reduction movement that acknowledges that one way to reduce the spread of other diseases is to clean needles for people that are using drugs intravenous. It is not condoning the use of drugs but takes into consideration that providing clean syringes slows down or reduces transmission of other illnesses that can spread by dirty syringes.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV):

We have learned so much about this illness and with increased testing and new medications continued research has provided new ways to help people who have HIV. We understand that people with substance use disorders who have both illnesses can dramatically keep themselves safe by participating in the recovery process. Research is an ongoing process with this illness.


We have seen an increase in people turning to alcohol or drugs after the COVID-19 pandemic and the research will have to focus on the correlation between substance use disorders and people that begin using alcohol or drugs after the pandemic started. Research is ongoing at this time.