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Better data reporting holds key to promoting recovery

June 28, 2017
by Rebecca Flood
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Just as any professional should, addiction treatment providers must be able to stand by their work. It’s important for us, more than ever, to be unified in our goal to prevent substance use disorders and the generational spread of this disease. Data is the key to this goal. Our statistics, successes, methods and failures should be reported to ensure that quality methods are standardized and systematic and that we continuously improve across the board.

At New Directions for Women we are currently participating, along with other residential programs, in a study to measure the efficacy of treatment nationally. It is being conducted by the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) along with an external evaluator, the OMNI Institute. A total of 800 consumers will participate, and outcomes from baseline to discharge to a variety of intervals post-discharge will be measured. It’s exciting that we will soon have this data for the first time from privately funded treatment programs.

The Residential Women with Children and Pregnant and Postpartum Women (RWC-PPW) national cross-site demonstration programs sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and its Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) in the 1990s were a powerful glimpse into both the demographics of substance use disorder among women and the effectiveness of current treatment options. Some of the findings:

  • 45% of the women in the survey were African-American, showing a strong demographic lean in the nature of the disorder.

  • 51% of the women in the study were “involved with the criminal justice system.”

  • 49.6% reported losing custody of a child by action of child protective services.

  • With proper, long-term residential treatment, premature and low birthweight delivery was reduced from 27% in cocaine-positive women to 7.3% for women in recovery.

  • Infant mortality went down from 1.2% to .4% in this same group.

We also know that 6 million children under the age of 18 live with at least one alcohol- or drug-dependent parent. In addition, 69.2% of women and 52.5% of men entering treatment report having children. According to the National Institutes of Health, “every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of between $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft. When savings related to healthcare are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1.”

These statistics are harrowing and empowering at the same time. Clearly, by targeting parents we can help prevent the intergenerational spread of this disease and dramatically reduce healthcare expenditures to boost the economy while saving lives. Effective treatment in pregnant women can reduce the odds of low birthweight of a baby and can prevent infant mortality.



Rebecca Flood

President and CEO of Ashley Addiction Treatment

Rebecca Flood is president and CEO of Ashley Addiction Treatment. She previously served as CEO...

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