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Treatment Cuts Drug Use in Half, Reduces Crime and Homelessness, Says SAMHSA Study


November-December 1997

Almost half of the drug addicts and alcoholics who get help in federally funded treatment programs stay off drugs for at least a year after they start treatment, according to the National Treatment Improvement Evaluation Study (NTIES) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). NTIES is a Congressionally-mandated five-year study of the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment programs that receive funding from SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, "National Treatment Improvement Evaluation Study," September 1997; "Study shows drug treatment combats homelessness, despair," Waco Tribune-Herald, September 20, 1997).

The study interviewed treatment clients at admission to treatment, when they left treatment and 12 months after the end of treatment, and the final analysis included 4,411 respondents. NTIES showed that from before treatment to one year after treatment, treatment clients' use of their primary drug(s) declined from 73% to 38%; cocaine use decreased from 40% to 18%, heroin use was reduced from 24% to 13%, and crack use decreased from 50% to 25%.

The study found effective treatment reduces criminal behavior; enables addicts to get steady jobs and stable housing; improves mental and physical health; and reduces risky sexual behaviors among participants. NTIES found that a year after treatment, selling drugs decreased by 78%; shoplifting declined by 82%, assaults decreased 78%, arrests for drug possession fell by 51%, and arrests for any crime fell by 64%. The number of people on welfare a year after starting treatment dropped 10.8%, and homelessness decreased 42.7%. The study concluded that drug abuse and alcoholism are among the chief causes for homelessness.

For a copy of the report contact the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information - (800) 729-6686 or visit SAMHSA's web site at SAMHSA press office - (301) 443-5052.