The proportion of drug users who completed treatment for drug addiction decreased between 1998 and 2002, although the overall number of drug users who entered treatment increased. A British study of the outcome of treatment for drug addiction, published today in the open access journal BMC Public Health, also reveals that drug users were more likely to drop out of treatment if they had been coerced into it by the criminal justice system than if they had entered by other routes.
The authors of the study conclude that efforts to make treatment for drug addiction more accessible have succeeded in getting more people into treatment, but the impact of coercive measures to push drug users into treatment needs further consideration. They write: "recent measures to increase drug treatment participation have speeded up a revolving door both into and out of treatment".
Dr. Caryl Beynon and colleagues from Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool, UK, analysed the records of 26,415 anonymous drug users who had entered treatment for drug addiction between 1997 and 2004 in Cheshire and Merseyside, England, UK.
The results of Beynon et al.'s study show that the proportion of individuals who dropped out of treatment increased from 7.2% in 1998 to 9.6% in 2002. Individuals coerced into treatment by the criminal justice system were more likely to drop out of treatment than those referred through other routes. The proportion of drug users who successfully completed treatment decreased from 5.8% in 1998 to 3.5% in 2002, but the proportion of drug users who came back to start treatment again after dropping out of treatment increased from 22.9% in 1998 to 48.6% in 2002.