Community referral sources and entry of treatment-naive clients into outpatient addiction treatment

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Ambulatory Care; Coercion; Community Mental Health Centers; Crime; Female; Humans; Male; Occupational Health Services; Patient Acceptance of Health Care; Referral and Consultation; Substance Abuse Treatment Centers; Substance-Related Disorders


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine


This study assessed the association of sources of client referral with enrollment of treatment-naive clients. Data from the 1995 (n = 618) and 2000 (n = 745) waves of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Survey (DATSS), a panel study of outpatient substance abuse treatment units (OSAT), were analyzed. Enrollment of treatment-naive clients was defined as the percentage of OSAT clients who entered treatment in the past 30 days with no prior treatment for substance abuse. A generalized estimating equation model simultaneously assessed the association of each referral source with the dependent variable, while controlling for potential confounding and accounting for correlation of unit-level responses over time. In the multivariable model, OSAT units with a greater proportion of treatment-naive clients had received more referrals from employee assistance programs and the criminal justice system, and fewer referrals from mental health agencies. No effect of referral from medical or social service agencies was observed. These results highlight the role of coercive community institutions in treatment outreach efforts to persons in earlier phases of the "addiction career."


Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2003;29(1):105-15.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID