Determining predictors of attrition in an outpatient substance abuse program

Shelly L. Sayre, Joy M. Schmitz, Angela L. Stotts, Patricia M. Averill, Howard M. Rhoades, John J. Grabowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Determining pre-treatment variables that predict attrition in an outpatient cocaine abuse program is critically important in efforts to enhance retention and ultimately improve client outcome. Potential predictors have been identified, such as treatment history, deviant behaviors, and level of drug use; however there is not widespread agreement on their applicability across treatments and populations. This study examines the relationship of demographic, drug use severity, and psychosocial factors with treatment attrition and the time of dropout. One hundred and sixty-five individuals from the Houston area, seeking treatment for cocaine dependence, completed a pre-treatment assessment battery prior to starting 12 weeks of outpatient treatment. A series of regression analyses showed that treatment dropouts were more likely to be separated from their spouses, have poorer family/social functioning, have fewer years of education, and to be female. Those participants with higher education levels and those with poorer psychiatric functioning tended to remain in treatment longer. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-72
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the NIDA grant DA-09262-02 and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas—Houston. The grant was awarded to Joy M. Schmitz, PhD at the University of Texas—Houston. This work was presented at the 62nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 2000. We thank Lawrence Whitehead, PhD and Susan Tortolero, PhD for their assistance with this work.


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