Research has indicated that more intense treatment is associated with better outcomes among clients who are appropriately matched to treatment intensity level based on the severity of their drug/alcohol problem. This study examined the differential effectiveness of community-based residential and outpatient treatment attended by male and female drug-involved parolees from prison-based therapeutic community substance abuse treatment programs based on the severity of their drug/alcohol problem.
Subjects were 4,165 male and female parolees who received prison-based therapeutic community substance abuse treatment and who subsequently participated in only outpatient or only residential treatment following release from prison. The dependent variable of interest was return to prison within 12 months. The primary independent variables of interest were alcohol/drug problem severity (low, high) and type of aftercare (residential, outpatient). Chi-square analyses were conducted to examine the differences in 12-month RTP rates between and within the two groups of parolees (residential and outpatient parolees) based on alcohol/drug problem severity (low severity, high severity). Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine if aftercare modality (outpatient only vs. residential only) was a significant predictor of 12-month RTP rates for subjects who were classified as low severity versus those who were classified as high severity.
Subjects benefited equally from outpatient and residential aftercare, regardless of the severity of their drug/alcohol problem.
As states and the federal prison system further expand prison-based treatment services, the demand and supply of aftercare treatment services will also increase. As this occurs, systems and policies governing the transitioning of individuals from prison- to community-based treatment should include a systematic and validated assessment of post-prison treatment needs and a valid and reliable means to assess the quality of community-based treatment services. They should also ensure that parolees experience a truly uninterrupted continuum of care through appropriate recognition of progress made in prison-based treatment.