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Drug Rehab Centres


Generally there is a distinct lack of research into drug rehabilitation centres in the UK and it is assumed that this is because there is a lack of research interest and funding in this area. That said, the research that does exist recognises that drug rehab centres offer a very positive outlook for those people who are seeking recovery from addiction.

When Dr David Best of the National Treatment Agency undertook a research project, his conclusion evidenced that 'The only type of formal treatment service which was a key factor in helping drug users to stay abstinent was residential rehab. Formal long-term structured , non-residential treatments played only a peripheral role in the recovery journeys.' (statement by researchers Dr David Best, Jessica Loaring and Safeena Ghufran).

Other studies have also been carried out, including a joint one by the National Treatment Agency and the Commission for Social Care Inspectorate in 2008 that suggested that without exception a programme in a rehab centre outstripped any other treatment intervention.

Also in 2006 a study undertaken by the Drug Outcome Research in Scotland (DORIS) followed 1,033 drug users contacting treatment services who were able to become and stay abstinent 33 months after starting treatment -and identified which services were most closely linked with such drug-free results. The Doris researchers defined abstinence in terms of people being totally drug free (other than alcohol or tobacco use) for at least 90 days before their research interview. 29.4% of those in contact with residential rehabilitation services but only 3.4% of those in contact with methadone maintenance services had a 90-day drug-free period nearly three years after having initiated a new episode of treatment.

The National Treatment Outcome Research Study is the largest study undertaken in the UK researching published changes in substance use, health and criminal behaviour during the five years after intake. The study group was made up of long-term, chronic users considered to have the most severe problems. Also among the study group were chronic, heavy drinkers and those more likely to have been actively involved in crime.

Outcome showed that over 38% of the “residential clients” were abstinent from six illicit target drugs 4 -5 years after treatment compared to 35% of methadone clients. Methadone users were described as abstinent when using not only that drug but also psychoactive drugs other than “illicit heroin, non-prescribed methadone, crack or powder cocaine, non-prescribed benzodiazepines and amphetamines”. So they could still be using prescribed heroin, cannabis, ecstasy. Indeed, 40% of methadone maintenance patients became dependent on alcohol.

Second, researchers confusingly blended NHS inpatient outcomes with residential rehab instead of separating them out, even though they are very different. It is concluded therefore that successful outcomes for residential rehab are higher than the 38% quoted.

Published by PCUG Addiction Treatment on 14/07/2020.

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